VANCOUVER -- Students at post-secondary institutions on southern Vancouver Island have received more than $1 million in emergency assistance from the provincial government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.C. government marked the milestone in a news release Friday, saying a total of $1,162,500 had been given to Camosun College, Royal Roads University and the University of Victoria since March 2020.

The funds are for students experiencing unexpected financial emergencies that may affect their ability to complete their studies or handle their expenses. They can be used for living expenses, food, travel, technology and other supports for students returning to campuses in 2021 and 2022.

“This emergency financial assistance provides an important safety net for students to ensure they have the funds to focus on continuing their education,” said Anne Kang, B.C.'s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, in the release.

“We know that pursuing post-secondary education can be challenging and stressful at any time, and particularly during a pandemic. That’s why we are taking steps to make sure students facing unexpected circumstances can access financial help.”

So far, Camosun College has received $397,000 for its students, while Royal Roads has received $271,000 and UVic has received $494,500.

The funding is part of a $9 million program for students enrolled in post-secondary institutions across the province. Students can access the funds by contacting their schools' financial aid offices or student service centres, according to the province.