An $8-million influx of student support

Through the generosity of donors and with matching funds from the Government of Ontario, $8 million in new endowed student financial assistance will be raised by the York University Foundation this year alone.

Since 1996, when matching programs were first initiated, over $50 million has been added to York’s endowment to support students. Approximately 30 per cent of all donations to the University since that time have been designated to student financial aid. Additionally, from 1998-2006, York’s overall endowment increased from $90 million to $240 million, helped by Ontario government matching gift programs in support of student assistance.

Right: York student endowment funds will receive an influx of $8 million to benefit York students

Through the new Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS) program, initiated in November 2005, $50 million will be made available to universities and colleges in the province every year to assist students in financial need. York is eligible for up to $4 million in matching funds per year through the new program.

Replacing the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF), which ended in March 2005, the OTSS will match dollar-for-dollar private and corporate cash donations used by colleges and universities to set up endowment funds. Investment income generated by these funds will support students well into the future.

“By creating these matching programs, the provincial government has taken a crucial step in increasing accessibility for students of all backgrounds,” says Lorna R. Marsden, York’s president and vice-chancellor. “These programs are so important and have been extremely popular with our donors to the York University Foundation who want to help individual students achieve extraordinary success.”

York students come from an array of backgrounds and various financial situations.  For many, university would not be a possibility if not for financial assistance.

Donna Jursa (right), a mature student enrolled in Atkinson’s Business Administration program, has spent the past number of years earning her degree. Now, as an A-student with only five courses to go, her motivation to reach the end is stronger than ever. But Jursa has often had to put tuition last after household bills and other financial commitments. “Life costs more these days and I often can’t justify spending money on myself,” she says.

Juggling her dream of completing a university degree with day-to-day life has been hard. In the spring of 2003 she was faced with an outstanding tuition balance, which may have prevented her from enrolling in the 2004 academic year. She nearly gave up. Then she was informed that she was the recipient of a bursary. The $1,000 she received allowed her to pay off her tuition debt and enroll in fall courses.

However, for every York student like Jursa who benefits from a scholarship or bursary, many more are struggling to complete their degrees. In light of this, York continues to encourage private support by offering to match funds.

For more information contact Barry Wilding, chief development officer, Division of Students at 416-650-8157, or visit

This article was submitted to YFile by Allison Berg, communications officer, York University Foundation.