October 1, 2015
NDP commits $250 million to increase federal student grants
Students across Canada welcome the New Democratic Party’s commitment to address rising student debt. The NDP announced $250 million in additional investment to federal student grants as well as a gradual removal of interest on student loans.
“Skyrocketing tuition fees have resulted in mortgage-sized debt for students across Canada,” said Bilan Arte, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Increasing up-front grants is a good first step to alleviating the burden, but more must be done to fix the root causes of inaccessibility of post-secondary education.”
The dramatic increase in tuition fees across the country is primarily a result of an erosion of public funding for colleges and universities. In 1982, government funding made up almost 83% of university operating revenue, with tuition fees accounting for less than 14%. In 2012, government funding had dropped to just 55% of university operating revenue.
“Students have the power to dramatically influence the results of this election,” said Arte. “The Federation is working hard to engage students in this election and we challenge all parties to commit to investing in accessible post-secondary education for all of Canada’s students, including the creation of a National Post-Secondary Education Act.”
Special Elections Canada polling stations will be open on 28 campuses across the country from October 5 to 8 to make it easier for students to vote. Students on these campuses can cast their ballot for any riding in Canada.
The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organization, uniting more than one-half million students across Canada. The Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organizations have represented students in Canada since 1927 in their call for fully accessible public post-secondary education.
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Student Debt – Tuition Fees
When asked, “What do you think is the single most important thing the federal government should do around post-secondary education?” 70% of Canadians responded, “lower tuition fees and student debt”.*
82% of Canadians believe that young people have to take on too much debt today to get a university or college education.*
Total outstanding student debt owed to the federal government currently stands at over $17 billion.
It is estimated that nearly $2.5 billion in new Canada Student Loans were issued for the 2014-15 academic year by the federal government alone.
The newest data available, for the graduating class of 2010, puts the nation-wide average student debt at $26,300 upon completion of a four-year degree. In 2015 dollars, that is equivalent to approximately $28,700 in student debt.
Since 1990, the national average cost of tuition fees has increased an inflation adjusted 150%, and average tuition fees for 2015-16 are just over $6,000.
Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP)
The PSSSP is only available to status First Nations’ and Inuit students. Metis and non-status Aboriginals are not eligible for any of the grants.
Prior to 1992, PSSSP funding was allocated based on the number of eligible students and their estimated expenses. In 1996, increases in funding were capped at 2% annually, despite a growing number of Aboriginal Canadians becoming eligible, and costs that were increasing well above 2% per year.
Prior to the cap, approximately 27,000 Aboriginal students received funding; by 2009, that number had fallen to under 19,000. Between 2001 and 2011, it is estimated that over 18,500 students were denied funding, and that 3,000 more students each year are denied due to the funding cap.
* Polling conducted in August 2014 for the Canadian Federation of Students by Abacus Data and MediaStyle