Photograph of a young male student wearing a green shirt sitting in the shade on a sunny day
Change Faster

Helping former youth in care thrive, not just survive

The tuition waiver program combined with a range of wraparound supports is opening doors for former youth in care who want to pursue post-secondary studies at Camosun College.

Collage of four student portraits - three women and one man.

Camosun College

Pictured top left, clockwise: Gauge, Destiny, Emily-Jayne and Cailean.

Since the provincial government program launched in 2017, over 231 students at Camosun have accessed the tuition waiver program. Effective Aug. 1, 2023, the province is removing age requirements to make education even more accessible and affordable.

“We want to provide an opportunity for a better life and to help students achieve their goals,” says Heather Cummings, Vice-President of Student Experience. “Removing the age restriction for the tuition waiver program will help reduce barriers to post-secondary education, support people who want to pursue well-paying and rewarding jobs, and create even more opportunities.”

Students are enrolled in a range of programs and courses from business to trades and technology and from health care to arts and science. For some, it is a break from their past and for others, it is allowing them to tell their own story. All of them regard the tuition waiver program as a game changer.

Cailean Switzer is excited at the prospect of a career in nursing and has taken advantage of supports to make his post-secondary journey more manageable.

“Smaller class sizes along with the ability to interact with instructors who want to see you succeed has been really good,” says Cal. “The vibe on campus is great. It is fast paced enough to keep you busy but it’s not overwhelmingly busy. I find it a nice atmosphere to study and I feel really safe.”

Emily-Jayne Smythe enrolled in a General Arts diploma at Camosun after learning about the tuition waiver program and is exploring her creative side at her own pace.

“The tuition waiver program is very much worth it. If you have something you are passionate about or makes you feel alive, then you should pursue it,” says Emily-Jayne. “Post-secondary education can be challenging but it is also okay to be scared and it’s okay to reach out for help.”

Gauge Duce is wrapping up a post-degree diploma in Interprofessional Mental Health and Addictions at Camosun and credits the tuition waiver program as putting post-secondary education within reach.

“I would not have been able to have any form of post-secondary education if it wasn’t for the tuition waiver program,” says Gauge. “My foster family is great and would do anything for me but the cost of schooling, living and everything here in Victoria is just so expensive.”

Destiny Griffin is working to put her past behind her by using her Criminal Justice diploma to pursue a university degree.

“It takes a huge weight off your shoulders to know that there is some source of income regardless of your place of employment,” says Destiny. “I am on a bit of a personal mission. I wake up every day with a little sticky on my mirror and it says that ‘you are not where you come from’.”

The tuition waiver program is making post-secondary education more accessible for former youth in care by covering tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students. Additional supports like the Counselling Centre, Centre for Accessible Learning, Academic Advising, Indigenous Advising, various Help Centres and the Fitness Centre are available.

Learn more at

Contact information

Rodney Porter

Camosun College