Province University Students Work on Improving Student Assistance

first_img Raising or eliminating the cap on student loans Substantially increasing the non-repayable grant portion of student loans to cap the level of debt incurred Retaining the Repayment Assistance Program Education Minister Marilyn More announced today, Sept. 27, that university students will have a voice in helping government makethe right decision in improving student assistance in NovaScotia. The minister met with student representatives in Halifax. The Department of Education, students and stakeholders will share information and ideas over the next few months as the department explores options to improve financial supports for all post-secondary students. “There are many challenges ahead for both the province and our universities; but one thing is clear, we must do more to make a university education accessible and affordable for more students,” said Ms. More. “I am listening to what students have to say and their voices will be heard as we work to renew our supports for students in this province.” An independent review of the university system by economist and former Bank of Montreal vice-president Tim O’Neill was critical of the province’s assistance program and the level of debt many students face once they graduate. He described the student assistance program in Nova Scotia as one of the weakest in the country. In the report, Mr. O’Neill recommended government upgrade student assistance to ensure more aid flows to students most in need of financial help. He also acknowledged that improvements would likely have to occur in the context of the fiscal challenges facing the province. Mr. O’Neill recommended, specifically: “Nova Scotia taxpayers are making a significant investment in university education. Nova Scotians are well above the national per capita average when it comes to funding universities; yet we have one of the highest levels of unmet need in the country,” said Ms. More. “This is an issue that must be resolved.” More than 7,900, or 41 per cent, of Nova Scotia students attending the province’s 11 universities received assistance from the Nova Scotia Student Loan and Canada Student Loan programs in 2009-10. Many graduate with high levels of debt compared with other students in Canada. The average student debt at graduation in Nova Scotia is $30,128. Almost $14.4 million was issued through the program last year to help cover tuition and living expenses. Total government support for universities exceeded $446 million in 2010-11.last_img read more