Waterloo Engineering is Now 529 Eligible

I’m told by our Registrar that the University Waterloo is has recently been approved by the US Department of Education.  For US residents interested in our engineering programs, this means that they will be able to use their 529 plans for tuition and some other eligible expenses at Waterloo. (For Canadians readers, this is like our RESP investments, although I’m sure there are various differences.)

We were aware that this lack of ability to use 529 plans was a bit of a barrier to some prospective US students.  I’m glad we were eventually able to remove this barrier for the future. (Thanks to our administration, as I understand this takes significant effort and time to meet all the US government documentation requirements!)

The one continuing issue is that US students in engineering will still not be eligible for US federal financial aid, because their rules don’t permit online learning as part of a program.  Our co-op engineering programs employ a work-integrated experiential learning model, where students do some small online courses during their work terms in industry.  So for now, US federal financial aid is out for engineering, but 529 plans are OK.  With the income from our paid co-op work placements,  students might not qualify for much (if any) financial aid after first year anyway.

(P.S.  all of Waterloo’s other regular programs probably qualify for US federal financial aid purposes.  It’s just our co-op programs, like engineering, that don’t at this time.)

What Our Rescue Dog Taught Me About Life, Learning, and Creativity – John Spencer

A resting Greyhound.

The lessons listed in this blog link are good for students, and anyone for that matter.  Plus it features a greyhound, one of my two favourite dogs.

I wasn’t always a dog lover. I used to be a dog-liker and most of the time a dog-tolerator. I never understood why people would get bumper stickers with their favorite dog breed and I …

Source: What Our Rescue Dog Taught Me About Life, Learning, and Creativity – John Spencer

Ontario’s Tuition Discount

The Ontario government recently announced a 10% reduction in tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year, followed by a tuition freeze the next year, and there are some other changes to student aid programs.  (Note:  the 10% reduction applies to Canadians, not international/visa students.)  A blog by Alex Usher has a nice summary and analysis of the announced changes, and he concludes that for students the bottom line is that wealthier families will save some money, and less wealthy students will end up with more student loans.

Everyone likes a discount when they’re shopping.  For the retailer, they give up a bit of a markup or profit margin but still generate some profit.  However universities are non-profit institutions and have no big markup to give up.  So, although I have no particular insider information about the effects on the universities, it’s not difficult to predict.

For engineering, if I recall correctly tuition makes up over 50% of the revenue stream for teaching so a 10% tuition cut is at least a 5% revenue cut.  There might be some economies to be found here and there, but most of a university’s budget goes towards salaries.  Over time there will likely have to be some shrinkage of staff and faculty numbers, and we’re already postponing some filling of vacant faculty positions.  Students are unlikely to see or notice big changes, but there may eventually be fewer elective courses available, for example.

As Alex Usher’s blog points out, one way universities could respond is to admit more international students who pay a lot more tuition.  Hopefully this would not be at the expense of admitting Canadian students, but when governments start applying shocks to the system there can be unintended consequences.

Watching the earth move | University of Waterloo

 

An interesting story from one of our Geological Engineering students…

Seismically monitoring an active volcano in Spain? That’s last thing I thought I was going to do when I first started at the University of Waterloo five years ago! Whenever the choice for a new opportunity crops up, I always ask which option scares me most. And that’s the one I choose. This has been the fundamental question I ask myself every term when choosing a co-op job, and it led me to my recent position as a seismology intern in Europe.

Source: Watching the earth move | Alumni | University of Waterloo

Engineering 7 Building Impressions

I was at a conference and missed the official E7 building opening, but below is a video showing some of the facility highlights.  I walk through the building frequently, and I really like the environment.  Nice open spaces, well lit, great and vibrant “energy”.  There are always people around, talking, having events, and working together in one of the many gathering areas, drawing diagrams on the walls.  Definitely seems like a pleasurable place to be.