Education & Training

Overview

An applicant or recipient may be eligible to receive income assistance while attending an education or training program under the following circumstances:

  • Is attending as a part-time student in a funded or unfunded program of studies.
  • Has notified the ministry, and will be participating as a full-time student in an unfunded program of studies (e.g., Adult Basic Education or English as a Second Language).

A recipient may be eligible for income assistance when an adult in the family unit is enrolled as a full-time student in a funded program of studies under the following circumstances:

  • Is participating in funded training as a full-time student through WorkBC Employment Services (WorkBC) or the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ISETS), including single parents participating in the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI),
  • Participation is a requirement of the individual’s Employment Plan, and
  • The family unit has been in receipt of income assistance, hardship assistance, or disability assistance for at least the 3 preceding calendar months.

These eligibility requirements do not apply to dependent children, and applicants and recipients of disability assistance and their dependants, including those with the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, who may be eligible to receive disability assistance while attending education or training programs.

Policy

 

Student Eligibility – Funded Programs of Study

Effective:  

November 4, 2021

A funded program of study includes any education or training that is eligible for Student Financial Assistance (e.g., student loans from StudentAid BC).

[For information on how loans, grants, or allowances issued through StudentAid BC affect eligibility, see Related Links – Income Treatment & Exemptions – Policy – Student Funding.]

Full-time Students:

A family unit may be eligible for income assistance when an adult in the family unit is enrolled as a full-time student under the following circumstances:

  • A funded program of studies:
    • Participation is through WorkBC, or ISETS, and is a requirement of the individual’s Employment Plan. This includes single parents participating in SPEI.
    • The family unit has been in receipt of income assistance, hardship assistance or disability assistance for at least the 3 preceding calendar months.
    • The length of time an individual is enrolled in the program is not longer than 24 months.
  • An unfunded program of studies with prior approval of the minister.

A family unit that does not meet these requirements is not eligible for income assistance. The family unit becomes ineligible on the first day of the month following the month in which classes began. Ineligibility continues until the last day of the month in which exams in the relevant program of studies are held.  This also applies if a student exhausts their student loan before the term is completed.  These students can be directed to the Student Financial Aid Office at their school. 

If a student has a semester break in the summer where they cannot find work, they may be eligible for income assistance beginning the month after exams were completed if they meet all eligibility criteria, including employment obligations.

This eligibility requirement does not apply to:
 

  • dependent children
  • recipients of disability assistance and their dependants
  • applicants of disability assistance who already have the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation and their dependants.

Part-time Students:

Part-time students ­enrolled in a funded program of studies may remain eligible for income assistance if all other eligibility requirements, including employment obligations, are met. Recipients should notify the ministry of their educational goals, including participation as a part-time student in training programs.  

WorkBC Employment Services or the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Strategy – Full-time Funded Training:

Recipients of income assistance or disability assistance may be eligible to participate in full-time funded training programs through WorkBC or ISETS, while maintaining their eligibility for assistance. Eligibility for training programs is assessed by a WorkBC or ISETS case manager. Eligible participants must have been in receipt of income assistance, disability assistance or hardship assistance for at least the 3 preceding calendar months. Participation in training must be documented in a recipient’s employment plan.

Effective: November 4, 2021

An unfunded program of study means any program of studies for which Student Financial Assistance cannot be provided.

Unfunded programs of study include (not exhaustive):
 

  • high school completion
  • Adult Basic Education (ABE)
  • Adult Special Education (ASE)
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • All Adult Education programs through the Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG) (e.g. ABE, ASE and ESL)
  • those whose unfunded training is under a federal or provincial government training program (such as WorkBC ES, Career Paths of Skilled Immigrants, the Canada Job Fund, or ISETS)
  • Developmental Programs

[For Indigenous students attending approved unfunded programs, see Related Links – Non-Ministry Funded Programs for more information.]

Full-time Students:

Full-time students enrolled in an unfunded program of studies may remain eligible for income assistance.

Recipients require prior approval to participate as a full-time student in an unfunded program of studies. To satisfy this requirement, recipients must notify the ministry so that their participation can be documented as part of their Employment Plan or Voluntary Participation Plan.

Part-time Students:

Part-time students in an unfunded program of studies may remain eligible for income assistance provided they meet other eligibility requirements, including meeting their employment obligations.

Effective: November 4, 2021

The SPEI can provide single parents up to 2 years of training for an in-demand job.  Eligibility for the program is assessed by a WorkBC ES case manager.  The program is available to sole recipients with dependent children and sole recipients who provide care for supported children, when the family unit has been on income assistance, hardship assistance, or disability assistance for at least the last 3 consecutive calendar months (unless exceptional circumstances exist).  Once a recipient is approved by their WorkBC ES case worker to attend training as part of SPEI, they are eligible to remain on income assistance or disability assistance during their program of study. The recipient must sign a new employment plan with the WorkBC ES caseworker to reflect their approved participation in training.

Single parents who divide guardianship equally (50/50) with the other parent are able to participate in SPEI. Single parents who are eligible for Shared Parenting Assistance are also eligible for SPEI.

[See Related Links – Family Composition – Policy – Shared Parenting Assistance.]

Recipients who meet all other eligibility criteria may be exempt from the 3 month requirement if rare and exceptional circumstances have prevented them from being on assistance.

Examples of cases eligible for the exemption:

Case 1: A single parent who has been receiving income assistance from January to September.  The parent then fled an abusive relationship and as a result was not receiving assistance for October and November. After being determined eligible for income assistance in December, the single parent was referred to WorkBC ES and training was determined as the best approach to employment.  In this case an exemption would be approved for the single parent to start training in January as they do not meet the 3 month criteria due to fleeing abuse.

Case 2: A single parent came on assistance in January after a separation from their spouse.  The single parent had been out of the labour market for many years.  In February, they left assistance to go to Alberta to seek medical care for a sick child.  In March the single parent returned to BC and was in receipt of income assistance.  The single parent was referred to WorkBC ES and training was determined as the best approach to employment.  In this case, an exemption could be approved for the single parent to start school in April as they do not meet the 3 month criteria due to an urgent medical need.

Examples of cases not eligible for the exemption:

Case 1: A single parent has completed 3 years of a 4 year post-secondary degree. This person hears about the SPEI and decides to apply for income assistance. They become eligible for assistance in August and they would like to start their 4th year in September.  WorkBC ES agrees that this program is a good fit for the recipient. This recipient is not eligible for an exemption to the 3 month criteria as exceptional circumstances do not exist.  The parent would be advised of other funding options including Student Financial Assistance.

Case 2: A single parent quit their job as server in January and applied for assistance.  When referred to WorkBC ES in February, the recipient requests approval through SPEI to obtain training as a daycare provider.  This recipient is not eligible for an exemption to the 3 month criteria as exceptional circumstances do not exist.  WorkBC ES would continue to work with this recipient to find employment.

Effective: November 4, 2021

For Unfunded Programs of Study (e.g., ESL, Adult Basic Education)

 

Expected to Work
(ETW)

No Employment Obligations
(NEO)

Persons with Disabilities (PWD)

Dependent Children in any Family Unit on Income or Disability Assistance

Part-time Student

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Full-time Student

Yes - must have prior approval from the ministry

Yes - must have prior approval from the ministry

 

Yes


 

Yes


 

 

For Funded Programs of Study (e.g., any course where Student Financial Assistance is available to fund the program)

 

 

Expected to Work
(ETW)

No Employment Obligations
(NEO)

Persons with Disabilities (PWD)

Dependent Children in any Family Unit on Income or Disability Assistance

Part-time Student

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Full-time Student

No

Yes – if participating in training through WorkBC or ISETS, including SPEI

No

Yes – if participating in training through WorkBC or ISETS, including SPEI

Yes

Yes