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Eliminate loan interest: B.C. students 0

By Jane Deacon

Average student debt loads in B.C. hover around $20,000. (FOTOLIA)

Average student debt loads in B.C. hover around $20,000. (FOTOLIA)

Average debt loads of over $20,000 have prompted the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia to lobby for greater support of post-secondary students.

 

The current provincial system, which has one of Canada’s highest interest rates on student loans, will cause student debt to continue to skyrocket and make higher education less accessible, said federation chairman Zach Crispin.

His organization wants the province to eliminate the interest on student loans and increase funding for schools. They are also fighting for a needs-based grants program, a system that exists in provinces across Canada.

“What we want to see is a system of post-secondary education that is paid for through progressive taxes when people have entered the workforce, so we’re not saddling people who are just starting out their careers with a lot of debt that they have to pay back,” said Crispin.

The interest rate charged on student loans aligns with the Canada Student Loan Program and is comparable to other provinces, said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Advanced Education. The elimination of interest rates would cost $34.6 million annually to the provincial taxpayer, added Michelle Hynes in an email.

In addition, B.C.’s post-secondary tuition is the fourth lowest in Canada, with annual increases capped at 2%, she said.

In response to questions about a grants program, Hynes pointed to up to $40 million annually in student aid grants programs, in addition to student loan funding.

Crispin said he’s buoyed by recent successes in Newfoundland and the federal government’s creation of a grants system.

“We’re hopeful that the government will see that there’s a lot of great examples of other places taking the lead on this,” he said.

 

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