October 13, 2015

What are the parties saying? Student Debt and Tuition Fees

Today’s students are the most indebted generation in Canadian history. The average student graduates with over $28,000 of debt. Rising tuition fees and living costs mean there’s no end in sight unless there is meaningful change to the status quo.

Young people today are caught in a bind. Given that at least 70% of new jobs require some form of post-secondary education, higher education is clearly a prerequisite for participation in the labour market and for earning an average income. At the same time, tuition fees are increasing at a rate that puts attaining the education and skills required to get a job out of reach for most people.

Why then is our education system set up to place the burden of advancing the prosperity of the whole country upon the young people who are struggling to get ahead?

The Canadian Federation of Students is asking for political leaders to bring about the following measures to finally end decades of underfunding and increasing disparity:

  • Increase the value and number of non-repayable grants available to students by redirecting ineffective tax credits and savings schemes to the Canada Student Grants Program.
  • Protect the investments made in Canada’s post-secondary education system by implementing a federal Post-Secondary Education Act.

The federal parties have promised the following, if elected:

Liberal Party of Canada (LPC):

  • Increase overall funding to the Canada Student Grants Program (CSGP) by $750 million through the elimination of tuition and education related tax credits.
  • Increase the value of Canada Student Grants to low-income and part-time students.
  • Expand the Repayment Assistance Program by ensuring an affordable payment of $0 if a former student is earning less than $25,000 per year.

New Democratic Party (NDP):

  • $250 million in additional Canada Student Grants over four years.
  • Seven-year plan to eliminate interest on all federal student loans.

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC):

  • $235 million over four years to alter the Canada Student Loans Program need assessment evaluation by eliminating the assessment of in-study income, and reducing the expected parental contribution enabling students to qualify for additional loan funding.
  • $184 million over four years to expand eligibility to the Canada Student Grants Programs to students from low and middle-income families for short-duration programs.

Green Party (GPC):

  • $2 billion, rising to a maximum $4.8 billion per year to gradually eliminate all tuition fees for post-secondary education in Canada by 2020
  • $1-2.5 billion annually to provide student debt relief, capping outstanding student debt at $10,000.
  • $400 million per year to provide additional needs-based non-repayable financial assistance, bridging the gap to the elimination of tuition fees.

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Here is how the parties’ platforms stack up against one another, based on what students have asked for. Not happy? There’s still time to demand better.  Contact your candidates now.

Remember, political parties respond to public pressure. You can help the cause of students across the country by telling the candidates in your riding that you’ll support individuals who will make youth employment a priority.

Visit action.cfs-fcee.ca to learn who your candidates are and access tools that make it easy to tell them what you think about youth employment in Canada and what changes you would like to see.

Finally, parties respond to voters. By voting this election, you can help show the political parties that youth cannot be ignored any longer. Visit the Elections Canada student page for information on how and where to vote.

Together, we can vote for better prospects for students and a brighter future for our country.