Financial Aid Consultations Redundant, Say Students

HALIFAX–Students are questioning a recent announcement from the NDP government that they will be conducting province-wide consultations on student financial aid. The previous Progressive Conservative government conducted a similar review less than three years ago.

“High tuition fees have forced students in Nova Scotia to take on mortgage-sized debt loads,” said Gabe Hoogers, Nova Scotia National Executive Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It looks like the government is avoiding dealing with the real problem of high fees in favour of yet another study.”

In November, 2007, the Nova Scotia government conducted a review of its student financial assistance programs that included eight public meetings, an online survey, and an opportunity for stakeholders to make individual submissions. During that consultation, Nova Scotians expressed that student debt was too high, and overwhelmingly identified the need for more non-repayable assistance, such as grants.

In this year’s Back to Balance financial consultations Nova Scotians singled out retaining university graduates as a priority, and suggested reducing tuition fees and reducing loans in favour of investing in more grants as ways to do this.

“Report after report has shown that Nova Scotians believe that investing in post-secondary education and dropping student debt levels must be a government priority,” continued Hoogers. “The most efficient way to tackle student debt is to reduce fees and increase up-front grants.”

Since 1990, student debt has more than tripled. Students in Nova Scotia currently graduate with an average debt load of over $31,000, the highest in Canada.

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