Hand Notebook

The history of ASAP

Until the founding of ASAP, any consultation which the federal or provincial governments sought or received concerning student financial assistance in this province came principally through the three existing universities–UBC, SFU and UVic–and BCIT. In the 70s, however, the public post-secondary system in BC was growing rapidly. New community colleges were being created and existing institutions were changing and expanding.

A wider range of options for post-secondary education created increased demand for student financial assistance. Criteria for Canada Student Loan eligibility became more complex and the provincial government began to supplement federal loans with provincial grants-in-aid. The application rate for student financial aid programs increased rapidly, along with the work load in institutional offices of awards and financial aid, where aid applications were assessed manually following government policies and procedures. Students were demanding a clear explanation of how their amount of assistance was determined and began to ask about appeal mechanisms. Frustration with some government policies and procedures was growing. There was concern about delays in processing assistance applications.

Financial awards administrators at the larger schools felt they could no longer represent the diversity of interests that the expanded variety of post-secondary institutions across the province might now wish to share with government. In addition, it was hoped that, by presenting a united voice on issues of common concern, a formally constituted association, representing most public institutions in the province, would be more likely to be heard by government officials than were the concerns of individual, isolated financial aid administrators.

Accordingly, financial aid staff across BC were invited in early 1975 to participate in the creation of a new organization which would represent their interests, give them a voice with government, and create professional development opportunities. Response was enthusiastic. The association was constituted later in 1975 with representation from universities, colleges and institutes across the province. In addition to accurately describing the composition of the group, the new association’s title, ASAP, was a reflection of the founding members’ strong desire to effect meaningful change in as soon as possible.

The founding members can now look back with pride on a quarter century of achievement. The their amazement, a few of the founders are still active in financial aid today – symbols of the dedication and vitality of BC’s financial aid community.

While not a founding member, the author of this piece is a long service member who also represents the dedication and vitality of B.C.’s financial aid community. Thank you to Dan Worsley for an insightful and perceptive view of our history.