Province scrapping student loans for grants

Barb
Barb Sweet
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Paying for a post-secondary education in this province will get a bit easier this fall and a lot cheaper in fall 2015.
Budget 2014, tabled Thursday by Finance Minister Charlene Johnson, included the conversion of student loans to non-repayable grants, at a cost of about $50.6 million over five years.

The province is also continuing the freeze on post-secondary tuition in publicly funded institutions — Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic.

Provincial student loans account for 40 per cent of a student’s government borrowing — the remaining 60 per cent is provided through the federal Canada Student Loans Program.

As of Aug. 1, the provincial student loan will be decreased by $20 per week of study, and the grant portion will be increased by $20.

Students would then be eligible to receive up to $40 per week of study in the form of a loan and $100 per week of study in a grant.

As of Aug. 1, 2015, provincial student loans will be completely replaced with non-repayable grants.

Qualifying for the grant won’t change — students from the province must meet financial need criteria.

Students are happy because they have been lobbying for grants rather than loans, arguing that will give the province a return on investment by keeping young people here after they graduate.

“New graduates will not be buried in mountains of student debts. They can start families and businesses in the province and contribute meaningfully to the economy,” said Michael Walsh, chairman of the Canadian Federation of Students-Newfoundland and Labrador.

“They can get the skills they need to contribute to the economy.”

About 7,000 students annually are expected to receive up-front grant assistance.

The conversion to a grant system would save a MUN student nearly $12,000 over a four-year undergraduate degree, roughly the same amount for a Marine Institute student, and more than $4,000 a year on a one-year College of the North Atlantic Program, while private college students would save about $4,500 on a one-year program.

Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien said he couldn’t commit to whether the tuition freeze would be extended beyond this year, but he didn’t rule it out either, saying the province will continue to listen to students’ concerns. It will cost $5.1 million to continue this year.

“It is important that we provide people with an opportunity to become well educated, to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us,” O’Brien told reporters in the budget lockup.

Also in post-secondary education, there’s $19 million in infrastructure funding for Memorial University and $4 million for infrastructure at College of the North Atlantic.

Other spending includes $4.1 million to support apprentices and trades.

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Organizations: College of the North Atlantic.Provincial, College of the North Atlantic.Other, Canadian Federation of Students-Newfoundland and Labrador Marine Institute

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Recent comments

  • Lolla
    April 04, 2014 - 05:02

    Studying good may not only give a good grand to a student. Even if you are not getting paid for you education this knowledge and skills that you obtain in the college or university will bring a great advantage to you in future. To those who seek funds to get an education short term loans online will be very helpful.

  • Just Saying
    March 28, 2014 - 09:39

    I guess more university students will be heading down south in future for their breaks.

  • SOL
    March 28, 2014 - 09:13

    Great help to future students, yes. But you're SOL if you're already paying off thousands of dollars in student debts at insane interest rates.

  • paul
    March 28, 2014 - 09:02

    just how does the 'needs basis' work? at present a student under 21 is subject to the wealth status of their parents and can not get a loan or grant if parents make X$ per years...but by 21 years they are independant of their parents and can get loans and grants no matter what their parents make. Will that remain the same? or will my 21 year old , independant daughter, be tied to my purse forever by this??? Just wondering.

  • david
    March 28, 2014 - 08:40

    The military gives away free education too....in exchange for a legal commitment to fulfill a service requirement after graduation. Why do you think they do that, instead of just hoping or expecting that a large number of the graduates will simply choose to stay in the armed services afterwards?!? The student "loan" system here has long been a financial farce. Instead of clamping down on the thousands of cheaters and non-repayers, the government has officially given up, and spins it like its a good thing. The Hibernia lootbag springs yet another leak.....death by a thousand cuts.