The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) says the NDP’s plan to cap student debt won’t do much to help Nova Scotia post-secondary students. The debt-cap scheme was outlined in the provincial budget introduced today at the legislature.
“The best way to cut debt for students is to reduce tuition fees,” says Elise Graham, chair of the Nova Scotia branch of the CFS. “Students have been asking for lower tuition fees, more grants for students and more funding for university,” she adds.
The NDP budget, introduced today, promises to forgive the Nova Scotia portion of any student loans above $28,560 beginning in four years time. The province estimates the measure would cost just over $8 million in the first year. At the same time, however, the government is raising tuition fees by three percent in each of the next three years. It’s also reducing its grants to universities in the coming year by $14 million.
“Right now Nova Scotian students have the highest debt load on average in Canada,” Graham says. “We’re very disappointed with the decisions that the NDP government is making.”
Today’s budget claims that the government is “fixing Canada’s weakest student assistance system” partly by continuing a $30 million bursary program that reduces tuitions for Nova Scotia post-secondary students by $1,283 per year and offering up to $612 in additional grants.
“When not in power the NDP were allies and now we’re kind of battling with the NDP,” Graham says. A CFS fact sheet points out that since 1991, tuition fees in Nova Scotia have almost tripled. It says that average student debt is $31,000 for those who earn an undergraduate degree.