February 20, 2015

Students demand action to stop out-of-control student debt

OTTAWA—The Treasury Board proposal to write off nearly $300 million in unrecoverable student loans brings the total spent on writing off unpaid student debt to more than $1 billion in just four years. Clearly, financing higher education through tuition fees and debt is unsustainable and irresponsible.

“It’s no secret that our post-secondary system is built on a foundation of massive personal debt,” said Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Governments could easily avoid having to assume these costs by adequately funding higher education and reducing the up-front financial burden.”

Since the first significant student debt write-off in December 2011, the Conservative government has spent more than $716 million on unrecoverable loans. Treasury Board data does not account for costs associated with the Repayment Assistance Program, which pays for a portion of the student loans of low-income graduates. Nearly 200,000 graduates relied on RAP this year, with more than 178,000 unable to make any payments on their loans.

Yesterday’s announcement happened to coincide with news that Ontario’s university system is now majority-funded by private funds. In anticipation of the upcoming federal election, students will be pressuring all major political parties to reinvest in post-secondary education to allow for provinces to reduce, and eventually eliminate tuition fees.

“For every graduate unable to make any payments on their student loans, there are hundreds more struggling to make ends meet in an increasingly unstable job market,” said McCormick. “The combination of a weak job market, high youth unemployment, the proliferation of unpaid internships and ballooning student debt has created a crisis that the Conservatives would be wise not to ignore.”

The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organisation, uniting more than one-half million students in all ten provinces. The Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations have represented students in Canada since 1927.

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For more information, please contact:
Sarah McCue, (613) 232-7394, s.mccue@cfs-fcee.ca

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