October 24, 1997
The Chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students, Dale Kirby, and the Minister of Education, Roger Grimes, today called upon the federal government to act quickly to address concerns with the adequacy of funding available and the consequent debt levels being incurred by students to obtain a post-secondary education in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout Canada.
Mr. Grimes noted that while the recent Speech from the Throne and fiscal update of the Government of Canada have highlighted the need to address debt levels, it is important to act quickly and prior to the next academic year to address changes to the loans program.
Mr. Grimes stated that many students are having difficulty surviving on the level of funding available and an immediate adjustment for high needs students is necessary. This must be coupled with a contribution from the Government of Canada to address rising debt.
Dale Kirby pointed out that as the average student debt load approaches $25,000 and above, the federal government must move quickly and decisively to re-design the Canada Student Loans Program. Any new program must be based on a grants or loans remissions structure, not an income sensitive program.
Kirby said that the added challenge and financial burden faced by students with dependants must receive special attention.
Under the current student loans program, Canada and Newfoundland provide on a 60/40 basis loans of up to $275 per week for students ($165/week CSL; $110/week PSL). The province has introduced a remission program to reduce the amount of debt incurred by students who borrow more than $22,000. Students must successfully complete their programs in a timely manner in order to qualify for debt reduction. The major portion of student debt now results from the Government of Canada portion of loans provided.
Carl Cooper, Department of Education, (709) 729-5040, Mr. Dale Kirby, Federation of Students Newfoundland and Labrador, (709) 737-3204 or (709) 778-5067, Pager #: (709) 778-5067