Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Attending AU On Student Loans

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for Taking Notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org

Attending AU On Student Loans

Are you an AU student on student loan, or are you planning to apply for a student loan? If so, there are some important things you should be aware of.

To be considered full time, students don’t necessarily have to be carrying a full course load of 15 credits per semester. You are considered full time if you successfully complete at least nine credits a semester (four months), or the equivalent of 60% of the full course load. Taking only three courses a semester can make full time studies more manageable, and you are still eligible for full-time funding. For graduate students a single graduate course per semester may qualify you for full time status (depending on the faculty).

What about course extensions? Undergrad students on student loan are expected by student finance to complete their courses in four months. However, you will receive one free extension at AU, giving you the equivalent of 6 months to complete the course. Extensions to a course are not considered when determining a full course load. Students on loan can still request course extensions, but they need to ensure that these extensions will not put them into the maximum course limit.

As a full time student, getting courses done on time can be challenging, and Athabasca University monitors the progress of funded students. If you are making no progress at all in your courses, you run the risk of having your student funding discontinued. If you find yourself heading for trouble – ask for help before it’s too late. The registrar’s office can advise you and connect you with counselling services if needed. AUSU also provides peer support through the study buddy program, mentor program, online forums, and coffee/study groups. For information go to: http://www.ausu.org

Funding for full time students is not available in every province, and different provincial funding agencies may have variations in their policies. AU’s registrar’s office tries to be as flexible as possible with funded full time students, but they do have to conform to provincial legislation, so make sure you are aware of the policies in your province.

AU’s registrar’s department has prepared a comprehensive information sheet that goes out with every student loan funding letter. It can be accessed at: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/depts/registry/forms/pdf/funded.doc

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