Grants and Contributions to Support First Nations and Inuit Post-Secondary Educational Advancement

Table of contents

1. Introduction

The purpose of these Terms and Conditions is to establish provisions for making grant and contribution payments to Registered Indian (First Nations and Innu) and Inuit students under Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Programs. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's (DIAND) suite of PSE initiatives consists of three program elements: the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), the University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program and the Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP).

Since the early 1960s, DIAND has sought incremental policy authorities to undertake a range of activities to support improvement in the socio-economic conditions and overall quality of life of Aboriginal People in Canada. These activities include support for First Nations and Inuit access to and participation in PSE programs. They also include support for the inclusion of First Nations and Inuit content, perspectives and related research within Canada's post secondary environment. DIAND's involvement in post-secondary education is a matter of social policy.

Although there have been significant gains since the early 1970s, First Nations and Inuit participation and success in post-secondary education still lags behind that of other Canadians. Increasing First Nations and Inuit participation in, and achievement of, post-secondary education will support the strategic goal of individual, family and community well-being. Specifically, PSE programs will do so by fostering greater self sufficiency, improved life chances and increased labour force participation.

DIAND's present suite of PSE programs is funded through two spending authorities: Grants to Support First Nations and Inuit Post-Secondary Educational Advancement, and Contributions to Support First Nations and Inuit Post-Secondary Educational Advancement.

Funding approaches for transfer payments under PSE program components are summarized as follows:
Grant Payments Contribution Payments
Set Fixed Flexible Block
*** Aboriginal Recipients Only ***
Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) YES (limited funding available) YES YES YES
University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program YES (limited funding available) YES YES YES
Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP)   YES YES YES  

2. Legal And Policy Authority

Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-6, s. 4

3. Purpose, Program Objectives And Expected Results

Each component of the PSE program has a specific objective, expected results and associated performance indicators as outlined:
Purpose / Objectives Expected Results Performance Indicators
The Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) This is the primary component of the PSE Program. PSSSP provides non-repayable financial support for First Nations and Inuit students attending eligible colleges and universities in Canada and abroad, including: community college and CEGEP diploma or certificate programs; undergraduate programs; and advanced professional degree programs (e.g., dentistry, medicine) or a Masters or Doctoral programs. PSSSP also includes limited funding for incentives and scholarships payment. The programs objectives are to improve the employability of First Nations and Inuit by providing eligible students with funding to access education and skills development opportunities at the post-secondary level. It is expected that students funded under PSSSP will have post-secondary educational outcomes comparable to other Canadians. Increased PSE enrollment and graduation rates among First Nations and Inuit students. On an annual basis:
  • number of First Nations and Inuit students participating in PSSSP; and
  • graduation rates of First Nations and Inuit students in post-secondary education programs funded by PSSSP.
The University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program This component of the PSE program provides non-repayable financial support to First Nations and Inuit students who are enrolled in university and college entrance preparation programs offered in post-secondary institutions, to enable them to attain the academic level required for entrance into degree and diploma credit programs. An increased number of First Nation and Inuit students with the requisite academic level required for entrance to post-secondary programs. On an annual basis:
  • number of First Nations and Inuit students participating in UCEP; and
  • "graduation" rate of First Nations and Inuit students successfully completing UCEP programs; and
  • percentage of UCEP participants who successfully transition to a post-secondary program.
Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) This component of the PSE Program supports the development and delivery of college and university level courses, and research and development on First Nations and Inuit education. This is expected to increase the availability of post-secondary education programs tailored First Nations and Inuit cultural and educational needs and thus increase the number of First Nations and Inuit students pursuing a post-secondary education. Furthermore, it will improve graduation rates for First Nations and Inuit students, and reduce the gap in educational achievement between Aboriginals and other Canadians. Recipient colleges and universities (and First Nations and their organizations for the Province of Quebec only) have the capacity to deliver quality, culturally relevant courses and research and development activities appropriate to the needs of First Nations and Inuit learners. On an annual basis:
  • number of courses of study and research development activities funding through PSSSP; and
  • number of post-secondary institutions (and First Nations and their organizations for the Province of Quebec only) participating in PSSSP.

As previously noted, under the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and the University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program, DIAND principally administers contribution funds, though some very limited grant funding is also available. The Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) provides contribution funding only.

In the Program Alignment Architecture, PSE programming is listed under The People / Education.

4. Eligibility

4.1 Eligible Recipients

4.1.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program

A. Contribution Funding:

Eligible recipients under PSSSP and UCEP are:

  • Band Councils of recognized First Nations bands as well as Inuit communities;
  • organizations designated by Band Councils (bands/settlements, tribal councils, education organizations, political/treaty organizations engaged by or on behalf of First Nations) or Inuit communities; and
  • Self-governing First Nations in Yukon that have not yet assumed responsibility for Post-Secondary Education through a Programs and Services Transfer Agreement or through the terms of their self-government agreement.

In addition, DIAND may also enter into funding agreements with a recipient appointed advisor or a third-party funding agreement manager to administer PSSSP or UCEP programming funds jointly with or on behalf of a First Nations or Inuit community.

Note: From 4.1.1(B) – 4.3 inclusive, meeting the eligibility requirements does not guarantee funding.

B. Grant Funding:

Eligible recipients for grant funding from these programs are:

  • students of First Nations bands whose Band Councils choose to have DIAND deliver PSSSP or UCEP initiatives on reserve;
  • Registered Indian students who are on the regional General List of the Indian Register. Student eligibility requirements outlined in Section 4.2 also apply;
  • Inuit students ordinarily resident in Canada but outside Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut or the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories and who also meet student eligibility requirements outlined in Section 4.2; and
  • Post-secondary education institutions in cases where a student recipient has signed an agreement authorizing DIAND to transfer funds directly to the post-secondary institution to cover the cost of her or his tuition and compulsory fees.

DIAND may make grant payments directly to individual First Nations and Inuit recipients. Grants are administered directly by DIAND on behalf of the recipients.

Note: Grant and contribution funding is not available to Registered Indians or Inuit who are eligible for assistance under special arrangements for post-secondary assistance, such as the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the Northwest Territories Student Financial Assistance Program or the Nunavut Student Financial Assistance Program.

4.1.2 Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) – Contributions Only

Eligible recipients are Canadian post-secondary institutions and exceptionally, for the Province of Quebec, First Nations and their organizations. This includes funding to support the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and Cape Breton University's Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies.

The institution delivering the program must be degree, diploma or certificate granting, and be recognized by a province or territory. Post-secondary education institutions affiliated with or operating in a formal partnership with a degree, diploma or certificate granting institution recognized by a province or territory are also eligible.

4.2 Eligible Students (PSSSP and UCEP)

To be eligible for funding, students:

  • are either:
    • Treaty/registered Indians who have been resident in Canada for 12 consecutive months prior to the date of application for funding; or
    • Inuit who are resident in Canada for 12 consecutive months prior to the date of application for funding but who reside outside their territory and are no longer eligible to be funded by their territory (proof of refusal is required);
  • Can provide documentation indicating that they have been accepted by an eligible post-secondary institution into either a degree, diploma or certificate program, or a UCEP program;
  • Maintain satisfactory academic standing within that institution (as per the institution's definition of satisfactory academic standing); and
  • UCEP students only must also obtain from the post-secondary institution offering the program a statement that attests the UCEP program will provide the student with the necessary courses to attain the academic level for university or college entrance and the student will be eligible to be accepted as a student of a regular university or college credit program upon successful completion of the UCEP course of studies.

4.3 Eligible Institutions (PSSSP and UCEP)

Eligible post-secondary institutions are degree, diploma or certificate granting institutions that are recognized by a province or territory in Canada or abroad. They include educational institutions affiliated with, or those that deliver post-secondary programs by arrangement with, a post-secondary institution.

5. Type and Nature of Eligible Expenditures

5.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program

A. Program Expenditures:

Eligible expenditures for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and the University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program include:

  • transcript costs and application fees;
  • the actual cost of tuition and other compulsory student fees;
  • initial professional certification and examination fees;
  • books and required supplies;
  • regional living allowances for the student and, if applicable, each dependent established by the Canada Student Loan Program as amended from time to time;
  • the actual cost of one trip home every 16 weeks (not more than two trips per academic year) for the student and, if applicable, for each dependent;
  • tutorial, guidance and counseling services for students enrolled in PSSSP or UCEP programs;
  • scholarship and incentive payments (as outlined in Annex A); and
  • administration costs as outlined directly below.

Students attending foreign post-secondary institutions are eligible to receive funding for tuition (including compulsory student fees) up to the amount charged by the Canadian institution nearest to the student's place of residence which offers the least expensive comparable program.

Students enrolled in a foreign institution are eligible to receive funding at the actual tuition rate, including other compulsory student fees charged by the foreign institution, when it is demonstrated that there is no comparable program available at an institution in Canada.

B. Administration Costs:

Administration Costs for PSSSP and UCEP - Eligible administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly with administering PSSSP/UCEP funding. Eligible expenditures may include the following costs:

  • salaries and benefits of personnel directly employed in the administration and delivery of PSSSP/UCEP funding. In the case of multiple responsibilities, the portion of the salary to be included under administration costs should be proportional to the amount of time spent fulfilling PSSSP/UCEP duties;
  • materials and resources required for the management of funds;
  • the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements;
  • costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal;
  • rent and utilities;
  • printing and communications costs; and
  • travel and accommodation.

Administration costs must not exceed 10% of total costs.

5.2 Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP)

A. Program Expenditures and Administration Costs:

Eligible expenditures for the Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) include the direct costs of developing and delivering college and university level courses for First Nations and Inuit students (including preparatory courses), or of research and development in First Nations and Inuit education. Funding may be approved for the following costs:

  • salaries and benefits of personnel directly employed in the development and delivery of courses, research and development;
  • costs associated with the development of learning and/or instructional materials;
  • costs of digitizing instructional material or converting it to formats viewable on websites;
  • costs associated with the dissemination of research and development findings including printing, publishing and through electronic means;
  • administration costs; and
  • operational funding -- First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) only.

Administration costs must not exceed 10% of total costs.

B. Ineligible Costs:

Capital, facilities and maintenance costs are ineligible under PSPP. Other ineligible costs are permanent staff salaries, student tuition, student books and supplies. Furthermore, expenses related to an institution's day-to-day operations, including rent, are ineligible with the exception of FNUniv as noted in Section 5.2A.

6. Total Canadian Government Funding and Stacking Limits

Total maximum government assistance is 100% of eligible costs.

Recipients (including student beneficiaries, in the case of PSSSP and UCEP) are required to declare any and all prospective sources of funding for the program or project, inclusive of all federal, provincial, territorial or municipal governments (total government assistance) and other sources that are expected to be received. Annual financial reporting shall show all sources of funding received by the recipient. Provisions for repayment shall be included in the funding arrangements. Recipient records relating to adjustments and overpayments to student beneficiaries may also be subject to periodic review.

7. Method for Determining the Amount of Funding

The method for determining the amount of funding for PSSSP and UCEP is based on funding formulae which take into account such factors as historical funding trends, demographics, size and/or socio-economic conditions of recipient communities.

For PSPP initiatives, the method for determining the amount of funding is influenced by the number of proposals received. Proposals undergo a quality assessment process which examines completeness, eligibility and reasonableness of proposed expenditures, as well as relevance against program objectives and expected results. The quality assessment process will be conducted by a National Selection Committee comprised of internal and/or external reviewers providing expert advice and guidance to evaluate the merit of PSPP proposals. Funds are awarded to cover DIAND's projected share of approved project costs.

For all programs, funding must remain within the maximum amount payable as outlined in the subsequent section.

8. Maximum Amount Payable

Maximum amounts payable may increase by no more than two percent per year or the increase in DIAND's reference level as appropriated by Parliament. (Base Year: FY 2014-2015).

8.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program

A. Maximum Amount Payable:

Note: This is a maximum allowable payment per student. No student is entitled to this amount. The maximum amount was established to ensure that the most extreme circumstances could be funded as necessary. The actual amount of funding available to a student will depend on the overall amount of funding available in the program and for each recipient.

The maximum amount payable per full-time student under PSSSP or UCEP cannot exceed $50,000 per year.

On an extraordinary and justified basis, full-time graduate students in an advanced professional degree program (e.g., dentistry, medicine) or a Masters or Doctoral program may be awarded funding in excess of $50,000 up to a maximum of $85,000 per year. Such awards may be granted by special request on a case-by-case basis only and considered when a graduate student has extraordinary circumstances that warrant the setting aside of the standard policy on maximum amounts payable.

Part-time students, as defined by the post-secondary institution being attended, may receive assistance for tuition and compulsory fees, and the actual cost of books and supplies that are listed as required by the post-secondary institution. Part-time students are not eligible for living allowances or travel.

B. Limits of Assistance Under PSSSP:

Assistance can be provided at four levels of post-secondary education:

Level 1:  Community college and CEGEP diploma or certificate programs;

Level 2:  Undergraduate university programs (certificate, diploma, degree);

Level 3:  Master's or advanced professional degree programs; and

Level 4:  Doctoral Programs

  1. Financial assistance for tuition, compulsory student fees and required books may be provided to students enrolled in all four levels.
  2. The duration of assistance may exceed the official length of the program as defined by the post-secondary institution in which the student is enrolled, as long as the student is in satisfactory academic standing at the institution as per the institution's definition of "satisfactory academic standing".
  3. Students who become eligible for assistance and who have previously completed a portion of post-secondary studies without assistance from this program may receive assistance for the balance of their program of studies but will not be reimbursed for previous expenses.
  4. If the demand from eligible student applicants exceeds the funding available, selection priority criteria will apply as per local policies.
  5. Students receiving funding from the PSSSP must declare support received from this program as a source of income if applying for social assistance.

C. Limits of Assistance Under UCEP:

For all UCEP students, the maximum time limit for financial support will be as defined by the institution offering the program. At the end of the first term (or part of the academic year, as defined by the institution offering the program), financial support for the term will be subject to receipt of a statement from the institution confirming the successful completion of the first term.

Students receiving UCEP funding must declare support received from this program as a source of income if applying for social assistance.

8.2 Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP)

A. Maximum Amount Payable:

The total amount paid for all projects in the PSPP component cannot exceed 12 percent of the total allocation for Post-Secondary Education.

The maximum amount payable to PSPP recipients normally will not exceed $500,000.

The maximum amount payable to support the First Nations University of Canada is $7 million.

The maximum amount payable to Cape Breton University's Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies is $1 million annually for five years. These investments are contingent on the Purdy Crawford Chair securing matching funding from the private sector.

As previously noted, PSPP is a proposal-driven program. The number of submissions funded will depend on the strength and quantity of submissions and the funds available each year.

9. Basis on Which Payments will be Made

Contributions: Contribution progress payments and final payments will be made on the basis of one or a combination of the following:

Grants (PSSSP & UCEP only): Grant payments for tuition, books, supplies, and travel are one time payments made at the beginning of each academic term. Living allowances are paid monthly. All payments will be made based on eligible expenditures or via advance payments as described in clause (i).

10. Application Requirements and Assessment Criteria

10.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation (UCEP) Program

A. Contribution Funding:

As noted in Section 7.0, the level of PSSSP and UCEP funding administered to a recipient will be determined by historical allocation or formulae rather than through an application process.

While there is no application process between DIAND and the recipient, there is a requirement for an application process between the recipient and the student. This is because, prior to the allocation of funds to students, recipients are required to ensure the eligibility of students (as outlined in Section 4.2 Eligible Students of these Terms and Conditions).

B. Grant Funding:

To apply for grant funding, prospective recipients must complete a DIAND application and confirm eligibility (as outlined in Section 4.1.1B and Section 4.2 of these Terms and Conditions). DIAND will assess applications based on reasonableness of proposed expenditures.

10.2 Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP)

PSPP engages in a fair and transparent proposal review process through a National Selection Committee (NSC). Specifically, the NSC reviews proposals against selection criteria as well as determines which and to what extent proposals will be awarded funding.

Proposals must demonstrate a benefit or utility to First Nations and Inuit students enrolled at post-secondary institutions. They must also include (but may not be limited to):

  • evidence of the need for the proposed project (e.g., course, academic program, research project);
  • a description of the project, objectives, planned activities and expected outcomes/deliverables;
  • start and end date of the course / project, methodology and mode of delivery, minimum enrolment and evaluation process;
  • a proposed budget and identification of other funding partners/organizations;
  • evidence of Aboriginal support for the project;
  • evidence that the delivery organization is a recognized post-secondary institution as outlined in Section 4.3 Eligible Institutions; and
  • evidence from the institution that course(s) / academic program(s) resulting from the project can be transferred for degree granting purposes.

11. Due Diligence and Reporting

Contributions: Financial and performance reporting requirements are based on risk as determined through the Department's General (Risk) Assessment process. Recipients are required to submit progress reports that outline activities completed, demonstrate progress towards the achievement of results and financial reports that account for the use of the funding. The nature and frequency of such reporting is specified in each contribution agreement.

At a minimum, all contribution recipients are required to submit final performance and financial reports containing information on activities undertaken, results achieved and the nature of expenditures actually incurred.  All contribution recipients will also be required to report on administration costs to ensure that such expenditures remain within the maximum 10% allowable.  For PSSSP and UCEP, recipient reports must identify each student funded, the institution attended, costs per student, and each student's academic standing.

Grants:  Recipients may be required to report on the results of the project to support DIAND's Performance Measurement Strategy and other departmental reporting.

12. Official Languages

Where a program supports activities that may be delivered to members of either official language community, access to services from the recipient will be provided in both official languages where there is significant demand and Part IV of the Official Languages Act is applicable. In addition, the department will ensure that the design and the delivery of programs respect the obligations of the Government of Canada as set out in Part VII of the Official Languages Act.

13. Intellectual Property

Where a grant or contribution is provided for the development of material in which copyright subsists, conditions for shared rights will be set out in the funding agreement.

14. Repayable Contributions

Provisions for repayable contributions do not apply. Any contributions made to private firms under these programs, initiatives and projects are not intended to generate profits or to increase the value of a business.

15. Redistribution of Contributions

Where a recipient delegates authority or further distributes contribution funding to agency third party (such as an authority, board, committee, or other entity authorized to act on behalf of the recipient), the recipient shall remain liable to the department for the performance of its obligations under the funding agreement. Neither the objectives of the programs and services nor the expectations of transparent, fair and equitable services shall be compromised by any delegation or redistribution of contribution funding.

Recipients have full independence in the selection of such third parties and will not be acting as an agent of the government in making distributions.

16. Other Terms and Conditions

Program Guidelines - Each PSE program component holds a corresponding set of DIAND program guidelines, which include specific criteria supporting these terms and conditions. Recipients must act in compliance with the provisions outlined in these terms and conditions and program guidelines.

PSSSP and UCEP Recipients may issue local program guidelines provided that they are consistent with the terms and conditions set out in this document. These guidelines will include rules for deferring applications in situations where there are more eligible applicants than funds available. All prospective student applicants must have access to these guidelines, along with a formal process to appeal or gain additional information on funding decisions.

Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) - PSPP funding recipients must agree to charge students regular tuition fees and apply the tuition and other revenue generated toward cost recovery. PSPP funding recipients are also encouraged by DIAND to share materials developed with the support of this program with other post-secondary educational institutions in Canada without charge.

Annex A – Scholarships and Incentives

Under the PSSSP program, recipients may provide scholarships and/or incentives for students to engage in studies that directly contribute to First Nations achieving self-government and economic self-reliance, or to recognize academic achievement. Scholarships and incentives will be available to a maximum of five per cent of the PSSSP-funded student population. At least one scholarship will always be available, including when the five percent maximum is less than one student. Recipients of the scholarship will be determined by the administering organization.

The administering organization may provide the types of scholarships and incentives listed in this section, as outlined below. Eligible students may be awarded either one Strategic Studies Scholarship or one Academic Achievement Scholarship in an academic year. Assistance can be provided at four levels of post-secondary education:

Level 1: Community college and CEGEP diploma or certificate programs;

Level 2: Undergraduate university programs (certificate, diploma, degree);

Level 3: Masters or advanced professional degree programs; and

Level 4: Doctoral Programs

I. Academic Achievement Scholarship for Students Enrolled in Level 1 or 2 Programs:

In recognition of academic achievement, the administering organization may award scholarships to full-time students in Level 1 or Level 2 and who have achieved a grade average of B or higher in their program of studies:

  • Students currently receiving support under the PSSSP are eligible for scholarships in recognition of academic achievements.
  • The amount of scholarship awarded by the administering organization will be up to a maximum of $1,000 annually.
  • Students may be eligible for the scholarship upon successful completion of each year of their program of studies, and awarded at the beginning of the next school year.

II. Strategic Studies Scholarships for Students Enrolled in Level 2 Programs:

In order to encourage students to engage in studies that directly contribute to First Nations achieving self-government and economic self-reliance, the administering organization may offer incentive scholarships.

  • Students who are currently receiving financial support under the PSSSP and who are enrolled as full-time students in a program of studies determined to be in demand, as specified in the Program Guidelines, are eligible for the Strategic Studies Scholarships.
  • The amount of the scholarships awarded by the administering organization may be up to a maximum of $3,500 annually.
  • Eligibility for the scholarship will be conditional upon successful completion of one year of the program of study and continuation in it. The scholarship will be awarded annually at the beginning of each year and thereafter in accordance with the length of the program as defined in Limits of Assistance Under PSSSP in Section 8.1, clause B of these Terms and Conditions.

III. Incentives for Students Enrolled in Level 3 or 4 Programs:

Students enrolled as full-time students in a Level 3 or 4 academic program may receive an incentive once at either level from the administering organization, subject to a maximum of $1,500. This incentive will only be provided once. Students will be eligible for this incentive upon commencement of the second year of the academic program, or upon successful completion of their degree.

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