York surpasses goal to help students in need

York University has exceeded its goal for the Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS) by over 27 per cent for the reporting year ending March 31. The bottom line? More students will have access to financial aid thanks to key assistance from York supporters.

York was eligible for almost $4.3 million in matching funds last year, with program guidelines allowing the University to roll forward any excess achievement into the next year’s report. This means that all eligible donations received will be matched either this year or next.

York supporters, through the York University Foundation, gave $5.4 million toward student financial support this past fiscal year, exceeding the ceiling set by the Ontario government by over $1 million. When matched dollar-for-dollar through the OTSS program, this creates new endowments of almost $11 million in student support. This represents more than 30 gifts from donors of over $25,000 and almost 4,300 donors making up the full amount, a true success for York and its students.

Each year, more and more students are forced to take on part-time jobs in order to afford the rising costs of living and obtaining an education. Those with heavy workloads outside of school may miss out on having a complete university experience, as there is little time left to participate on sports teams, student government and other activities on campus.

OTSS challenges the private sector to assist in addressing accessibility issues for postsecondary students by matching eligible donations used to set up endowment funds. Initiated in 2005, the program makes available $50 million to universities and colleges in Ontario every year to assist postsecondary students in financial need.

For Holly Snider (left), a student in the Health & Society Program, Division of Social Science, receiving the Ron Cope Bursary helps to alleviate some of the student loan debt she is accumulating. It also allows her more time for her academic studies, as she devotes fewer hours to her part-time job as a server in a restaurant. First awarded in 1999, the bursary was established to provide assistance each year to a hearing impaired student in financial need. "It has had a substantial impact," says Snider. "It went straight toward student loans. I pay for everything myself so it definitely helps in a lot of different areas."

Aidan Flatley (right) (BA ’78), president and CEO of general contracting company Kenaidan Contracting Limited, believes financial assistance is vital for undergraduate students to gain access to a full university experience. The York alumnus currently serves on the board of directors of the York University Foundation and as Annual Fund Team Co-Chair of the "York to the Power of 50" fundraising campaign.

When he was a student at York, Flatley and the late Ken Smith (BSc ’78) had started their own contracting business. One year, they experienced a slow summer of work and were unable to pay their tuition. The University granted them a much-needed tuition deferral, allowing them to attend classes, and also for Flatley to play on York’s varsity hockey team.

"My experience at York was extremely positive. I was able to maintain a balance between academics and activities outside of the classroom while I ran the business," says Flatley. "I want to do everything I can to ensure that more students are afforded the same opportunities." Kenaidan Contracting Limited, which Flatley co-founded with Smith, has demonstrated this commitment by establishing numerous OTSS-matched awards through the York University Foundation, including the Kenaidan Contracting Award and the Kenaidan Contracting Hockey Award, to assist students in financial need.

"We are fortunate that many friends of the University come forward of their own initiative to support our students," says Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation. "This program is of great encouragement to the many donors committed to helping students in need achieve remarkable success."

For more information on OTSS, contact Susan Rae, chief development officer, Division of Students, at ext. 58157, or visit the York University Foundation Web site.

Submitted by Earleen Dover, communications officer, York University Foundation.