Students win interest relief and graduate scholarships, but oppose McGuinty’s plan for fee and debt increases

TORONTO–Students are concerned that the government is relying too heavily on a high-fees, high debt model to fund Ontario’s higher education system. Today, Minister John Milloy announced that Ontario’s tuition fees will continue to rise between four and eight percent annually, thereby pushing students further into debt and increasing user fees by another 8 to 16 percent over two years.

“Today’s announcement means that students can now accumulate $29,200 in student debt, upon the completion of a four-year degree,” said Shelley Melanson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “Ontario is already the most expensive province in which to earn a degree, and this announcement means that the gap between Ontario and the rest of Canada for the cost of education will continue to widen.”

Aside from the tuition fee announcement, students won the creation of 1,000 new Ontario Graduate Scholarships and an interest-free six month grace for student loans upon completion of a student’s studies. The government is also introducing a new $500 part-time student grant.

“Allowing students to have an interest-free grace period upon graduation is an important recognition that students do not walk into a new job after they finish their degree,” said Hamid Osman, Ontario Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Allowing students the time to look for full-time work without having their student loans earn interest was central to students’ calls for improvement, and will help many new graduates.”

“The creation of 1,000 new graduate scholarships was a key demand of the Federation’s Ontario Graduate Caucus,” said Ontario Graduate Caucus Chairperson Kimalee Phillip. “An additional 1,000 graduate scholarships will finally address the gap that was created when graduate student spaces were increased across the province, and graduate scholarships were not.”

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000 college and university students across the province. The Ontario Graduate Caucus represents more than 60,000 graduate students at Ontario universities.

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