Assistance for students during COVID-19 pandemic

April 2, 2020 at 12:00 pm

The lives of all Canadians have changed substantially within the past few weeks due to COVID-19. As the majority of students are studying and working remotely, the MSU and University are trying to adapt to ensure sufficient supports during this time. The MSU has ceased in-person operations but remains committed to offering support through the Health & Dental Insurance Plan, the Student Assistance Plan, the Emergency Bursary Fund, and the HSR Bus Pass. Below is information on additional supports and assistance geared towards students.

Course Grading Options

In order to better support students experiencing academic challenges as a result of this crisis, McMaster has adapted its course grade procedure for Winter 2020. Students will now be allowed to keep their final letter grade or request a non-numeric grade of Pass (P) if a final passed grade is achieved, No Credit (NC) if a final failed grade is achieved, or Late Withdrawal (LWD). Students must submit requests for grade changes by May 15, 2020, which will be coordinated through their associate dean (academic) office or program office. For more information, please click here.

Emergency Student grants

Each year the McMaster Student Union establishes an emergency bursary fund to support students who are experience financial emergencies. This bursary can support students in paying for essentials such as food, rent, or utilities during times of financial distress. This fund is still open and as a result of COVID-19, McMaster has increased this fund substantiality and eligibility has expanded. Any McMaster student experiencing a financial emergency is encouraged to apply through Mosaic. This is allocated through the registrar and additional information can be found here.

OSAP payment and interest

Both the federal and provincial levels of government have agreed to a six-month, interest free moratorium on student loan repayments, effectively immediately. This means graduates do not need to make any payments during this time and no interest will accrue. Other related resources can be found in this news post.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The federal government as implemented the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to supplement the employment insurance program. Canadian residents who have stopped, or will stop, working for reasons related to COVID-19 or for reasons beyond their control can apply for this benefit which will provide $2000 a month for up to four months. Students who have earned at least $5,000 in the 12-month period preceding their application are eligible to apply and income can come from employment, self-employment, or Quebec maternity and parental benefits. April 6 is the target date when applications will begin to be accepted. Click herefor additional benefit details. 

On-Campus

Students living on residence have been asked to move out with exceptions given to international students, out of province students, and those in certain other circumstances. Students who have successfully moved out of residence can expect to be compensated for their lost time in residence and should expect updates in the coming weeks. Those students who have purchased meal plans can expect a 20% positive adjustment from hospitality services to be carried over to next year for returning students or refunded for students not returning this fall. For updates, visit https://housing.mcmaster.ca/stayhealthy/.

McMaster continues to provide COVID-19 updates, accessible here, and the MSU will keep consolidating resources as additional information is made available.

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