Manitoba Student Aid puts students’ aid on hold

By: Timor Syrota

Many students who use Manitoba Student Aid (MSA) came back from the holidays to find no new deposits for their winter term expenses. 

According to MSA, there was a “Java vulnerability issue,” which resulted in a delay in confirming the enrolment of students with their schools. Spokesperson Paul White added that the recent global technical issue affected many IT systems across the country. 

The Manitoba Student Aid Winnipeg office building./SYROTA

“If I wasn’t aware of it previously and like went and checked my bank account on the 3rd [of January] – I would have had a panic attack,” said Emily Clarke, second-year Business Administration at RRC Polytech.

Clarke said she was told there was nothing she could do after waiting an hour on the phone to talk to an MSA representative, who was unable to share exact dates of when the funds would arrive. 

“There is a big lack of communication — they didn’t send any emails, no notifications, it was just if you happened to go on the website, you’d see it,” said Clarke. “Communication is super important to me and I think it’s so easy to draft up an email and I think would take a lot of anxiety off of a lot of students.”

Clarke said she understands there is a processing time but is confused on why MSA doesn’t have fail-safes for these situations, like moving up the release date for the funds.

“There’s a lot more wiggle room that way, nobody’s panicking,” said Clarke. “Even if there’s a little bit of a delay, most people will have their funds by the start of term.”

MSA said student funding would be deposited by mid-January. Clarke, along with many other students, had expenses due early in the month. 

Clarke said she was relieved when her property management was understanding of the situation. After three days of constant refreshing on her bank app, she finally saw her deposit. 

RRC Polytech spokesperson Lauren Parsons said the school has been working with students on a case-by-case basis. She said they have been waiving penalties for delayed payments and, in some cases, assisting with the cost of living and required books or technology through emergency loans.

Parsons added while the issue is being resolved, if any student requires additional support they are encouraged to contact the Student Service Centre.

MSA Spokesperson Paul White said due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Manitoba Student Aid’s Winnipeg location is closed for in-person appointments. The office continues to offer phone appointments by calling 1-833-ST-AID-MB (1-833-782-4362).