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One small step for Nova Scotia, one giant step for Newfoundland and Labrador, in student financial assistance

by Canadian Federation of Students - Nova Scotia

HALIFAX - A day after the Newfoundland government announced plans to replace all provincial student loans with grants; the Government of Nova Scotia has announced plans to remove interest charges from student loans in Nova Scotia. The new grants program in Newfoundland will cost $7.35 million while the decision by the Nova Scotia government will cost it $1.6 million.

“Almost all of the benefit from eliminating interest on student loans will be negated by next year’s tuitions fee increase of three percent,” said Anna Dubinski, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “The Government needs to do more than eliminate interest on loans to combat skyrocketing student debt and youth out-migration in our province; it needs to freeze and reduce tuition fees.”

Tuition fees in Nova Scotia have more than doubled since 1993 and have increased over 12% in past four years. Meanwhile tuition fees in Newfoundland and Labrador are lower today than they were 15 years ago and nearly two thirds lower than tuition fees in Nova Scotia.

A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia showed that the Nova Scotia government could eliminate student loans by redirecting funding from the underused and ineffective Graduate Retention Rebate; a program that the current Liberal government criticized extensively while in opposition.

Newfoundland and Labrador eliminated interest on tuition fees in March of 2009 after a decade of tuition fee reductions and freezes and the reintroduction of provincial needs-based grants. A 2011 report by researchers at Memorial University showed that out-migration of Nova Scotia youth to Newfoundland and Labrador increased by 1079 per cent between 1999 and 2009.

“Saving $80 per year after graduation doesn’t compare to the $3500 per year a Nova Scotia student could save in tuition fees by going to school in Newfoundland,” said Dubinski. “If the government wants to keep students in Nova Scotia, it should reduce tuition fees and eliminate student loans.”

The Canadian Federation of Students, Canada’s national student movement, is comprised of nearly one-half million students from over 80 college and university students’ unions. Students in Canada have been represented by the Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations since 1927.

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Topics: Education
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