Published Date: April 11, 2014
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Income and Employment Supports Act, Division 3, Section 10
Income Supports, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, Part 2
Training Provider Regulation, Section 2
To help Albertans with low income, access funding for part-time training to acquire the skills they need to improve their employability, obtain sustainable employment, and become self-sufficient through increased income.
To ensure increased access to training opportunities for individuals who are unable to participate in full-time training programs or individuals for whom part-time training may be the most appropriate option.
To be eligible for a Skills Investment Bursary, an individual is assessed and recommended as needing part-time training in order to gain or improve skills needed for employment and/or further training that will lead to employment.
Individuals applying to attend part-time training must have a Service Needs Determination (SND) assessment completed and be Service Managed.
The maximum, cumulative amount issued for the Skills Investment Bursary is $5,000 per calendar year: January 01 to December 31.
The following training benefits are provided up to the maximum amount for incremental costs necessary to participate in part-time training:
- tuition, mandatory fees and student association fees,
- books and supplies,
- installation and monthly fees for a basic internet package, if the learner does not currently have internet access and if access is required for successful participation in this training,
- transportation costs if there is an assessed need to attend this training,
- child care costs if there is an assessed need to attend this training.
An individual is eligible to receive the Skills Investment Bursary if they meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Need for Training
An individual must have a need for training to obtain sustainable employment or improve their employment situation and earning potential.
- Ready, Willing and Able
An individual must be ready, willing and able to attending training.
- Age and Out of School
An individual must be at least 18 years of age and not have attended an education program recognized under Alberta's School Act or similar institution for 12 consecutive months. This requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Executive Director, Employment and Financial Program Policy
- Approved Training Program
An individual must be enrolled and accepted in an approved training program with less than 60% of a full-time course load to be eligible for funding under the Skills Investment Bursary.
- have an established Alberta address or an established address with the city of Lloydminster
- be in Alberta at the time of acceptance into the approved training program.
Individuals must be a:
- Canadian citizen, or
- permanent resident of Canada, or
- refugee who has been accepted to apply for permanent residency in Canada and is legally entitled to work and study in Canada.
Any applicant with a Social Insurance Number that begins with ‘9’, regardless of what Citizenship category has been indicated on the application, must provide a Notice of Decision, a Study Permit that covers the individual’s entire period of training, and a Work Permit that extends past the end date of training to allow time for a job search.
A person is not eligible to receive a part time training benefit if the person is incarcerated due to being charged with or convicted of an offence, or unable to work because of a condition of his or her sentence or release.
Applicants applying for the Skills Investment Bursary must not have a similar benefit that has been provided through another program or have been approved for a student loan for the same program/course as applied for on the Skills Investment Bursary application.
Assured Income Support for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) benefit recipients are considered to be financially eligible without further review of their financial circumstances.
ETW/BFE and full-time learners are considered to be financially eligible without further review of their financial circumstances. ETW/BFE clients must apply for their tuition, mandatory and student association fees, books and supplies, transportation, and internet fees by completing the Skills Investment Bursary application. If childcare expenses are required to attend part-time training, the ETW/BFE client must request these benefits from their Supports and Financial Services Coordinator. ETW/BFE clients must be advised to notify their Supports and Financial Services Coordinator/Career and Employment Consultant prior to applying for or attending part-time training.
To be eligible for funding under the Skills Investment Bursary, an individual (and their spouse/partner) must not have combined incomes that exceed the yearly income threshold level (see below):
Household Unit Size
For each additional child add $5,000.
- The individual’s net income from line 236 of the individual’s current tax return is used to calculate the total family income.
- Spouse/Partner’s net income from line 236 of the spouse/partner’s current tax return is used to calculate the total family income.
- Included in the calculation of income is non-taxable child support payments received by the individual and their spouse/partner in the preceding tax year, if applicable.
- The allowable limit of Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) purchased before studies commenced, with a total combined value owned by the learner and/or spouse/partner up to $100,000.
- Must not have combined liquid assets that exceed $5,000. Liquid assets include savings and cash assets or convertible assets such as stocks, bonds, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), term deposits, and securities.
Financial Eligibility for Ongoing Funding
The individual is required to meet all eligibility criteria to continue to receive funding. The learner will also be required to make acceptable progress.
In order to make funding recommendations for on-going learners, Authorized Officials will accept mid-term marks (or other indications of the likelihood of successful completion) if transcripts are unavailable at the time the funding recommendation is made.
An individual who is seeking funding for part-time training is expected to:
- complete all required information on the application
- complete and pass all of the training provider’s course requirements within the time specified
- comply with training provider rules
- if working, continue to work full or part-time while in training
- Employment Insurance (EI) recipients should consult with ESDC about collecting EI benefits while attending part-time training.
Funding received through the Skills Investment Bursary is taxable. In February of each year, T4As are issued for all learners who received a bursary in excess of $500 during the previous tax year. The T4A will be mailed to the learner’s last known address.
Human Services may provide funding for individuals to participate in either tuition-based or contract-based programs on a part-time basis. Part-time courses may be taken in a classroom, by distance learning, synchronous or a-synchronous or as a combination of classroom and distance learning.
Learners may be eligible for funding to participate part-time in the following approved programs:
- Work Foundations
- English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Basic Skills Training (Grades 1–6)
- Adult Basic Education (Grades 7–9)
- Academic Upgrading (Grade 10–12)
- Academic upgrading courses that have been accepted for equivalency and are listed in the current edition of the 'Alberta Transfer Guide' published by Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer
- University/College Entrance Preparation
- TOEFL Preparation
- Technical Entrance Preparation
- Employability training (Life Skills, Personal Management)
- Training for Work
Human Services funds full-time Occupational Training programs that are less than 12 weeks in length. Therefore, it is only these approved Occupational Training programs delivered part-time that are eligible under the Skills Investment Bursary.
Eligible part-time tuition or contract-based occupational training courses or modules must:
- train for occupational skills that are in demand and will address skill shortages
- lead to a credential reflecting industry recognized skills and abilities, and
- be a part-time option/component of a full-time program with a maximum duration of less than 12 weeks, which has been approved by Human Services or Innovation and Advanced Education and accepted by Human Services.
The following are NOT eligible for a Skills Investment Bursary:
- a course is part of a university or college transfer program, degree, applied degree, undergraduate or post-degree program,
- a course for journeyman certificate upgrading, or
- a diploma or certificate program that is 12 weeks or longer in duration,
- continuing education programs that are not a component of a full-time program and do not result in an industry-recognized certificate or credential issued on completion.
Individuals who have a documented disability that prevents participation in full-time studies and who meet all other eligibility criteria may qualify as a full-time learner with a reduced course load (less than 60% of a full course load). In this case they are not considered a part-time learner.
Acceptable Academic Progress
Part-time learners must maintain acceptable progress and to move on to the next level of training or to employment.
An individual who fails a course that is necessary to achieve their employment goal may be recommended for financial assistance to repeat a course, within a Service Plan.
All part-time learners are expected to maintain acceptable attendance and absences are allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Learners who are planning to be away for any period of time must advise their training provider/Authorized Official ahead of time.
If an absence of three (3) consecutive weeks occurs, the learner is considered to have left the program and will be ineligible to receive further training benefits. This will have an impact on their Service Plan. It is expected that Training Providers will have a method in place to track attendance; adhoc or more direct methods of monitoring may suffice.
The Learner Specialist may waive the absence for three consecutive weeks clause if the Learner Specialist feels it is appropriate due to extenuating circumstances. This authority is delegated to the Learner Specialist by the Executive Director, Employment and Financial Program Policy
In order to be considered as having acceptable attendance, individuals participating in e-learning are expected to continue working towards their goal and maintaining acceptable progress. This includes completing all assignments and requirements in a timely manner as outlined by the training provider.
When an institution terminates a learner or when a learner indicates that he/she has withdrawn, it is then the responsibility of the Authorized Official to inform Human Services in a timely manner. This information will assist in the determination of acceptable attendance and acceptable progress for the Service Plan, and will factor into any refunds or overpayments that may occur.
Applying for the Skills Investment Bursary
To apply for part-time funding, an individual must complete and sign a Skills Investment Bursary Application – Part-Time Study (EMP5571). Applications can be downloaded from the above link and must be submitted in paper form.
A learner who submits an application for funding after the course is completed is deemed ineligible and the application will not be processed.
The application form may be reviewed and approved by an Authorized Official of training providers who have signed an Accountability Framework Agreement (AFA).
Training providers who have NOT signed an AFA are not authorized to approve funding for part-time training. Individuals applying for funding for part-time training through a non-AFA training provider must have their applications reviewed and approved by an Authorized Official at a Human Services office or at an approved Assessment Centre.
If the learner is enrolled in more than one course, and there is a gap of 30 days or more between the end date of one course and the start date of the next course, a separate application must be submitted for each course.
Application Approval for the Skills Investment Bursary
The AFA training provider Authorized Official or Human Services representative will follow the appropriate steps outlined in the Mobius User Guide.
Individuals need to report changes to personal information changes by notifying their Authorized Official or by submitting written notification to the Learner Income Support Office. Changes include but are not limited to: name, phone number, address, variance in assets or income, change in academic status, etc. This will help to ensure accurate data and to assist in maintaining learner eligibility for future funding.
Distribution of the Skills Investment Bursary
Training Providers will receive tuition, mandatory fees and student association fees.
Eligible learners will receive books and supplies the beginning of each session. If a learner is eligible for childcare, internet or transportation benefits, those benefits will be paid on a monthly basis.
In some cases involving distance delivery, a-synchronous, synchronous or correspondence courses, funding for books and supplies may be sent directly to the training provider. The training provider may request this from the responsible Contract Services Coordinator (CSC) or the designated contact within Human Services.
Tuition Refund Circumstances
If an individual receives an award under the Skills Investment Bursary but does not attend training, 100% of the benefits are to be returned to Human Services.
If a learner attends one or more days of training, and then does not complete the course/program, the training provider’s refund policy is to be applied.
In some cases, a lag may occur between the actual learner withdrawal date and Mobius being notified of the withdrawal. As benefits are paid monthly, a learner may receive training benefits that they are ineligible for. In such cases, an overpayment will be created and the applicable benefits for transportation, childcare and internet will need to be repaid by the individual.
In order to avoid the creation of overpayments, Authorized Officials are required to enter Mobius tasks in a timely manner.
Learners may be asked to take part in information verification activities which are initiated by LISO. In such cases, learners would be required to provide receipts for authorized expenses. If receipts cannot be produced, repayment of expenses may be required by the learner for such expenses.
If an individual is not satisfied with the award, they may submit a notice of appeal to the Learner Income Support Office requesting a review. If unsatisfied with the result of the review, the individual may appeal the decision to the Income and Employment Supports Appeal Panel.
Individuals who choose not to submit a Skills Investment Bursary Application will not receive a formal decision regarding their eligibility and therefore cannot appeal.