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Federal budget to put nearly 200,000 students deeper into debt

OTTAWA, April 21, 2015 – Changes to the Canada Student Loans Program proposed in today’s federal budget will leave almost 200,000 students with more debt upon graduation.
“Students are graduating with record-levels of debt and there are already over 200,000 graduates struggling to make payments each month,” said Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Weighing Canadians down with enormous debts as they start their careers drags back economic growth.”
The government acknowledges that Canadian students and their families are struggling to pay for college and university, but fails to address the cause of these pressures. The federal budget proposes eliminating in-study income limits and reducing parental contributions for Canada Student Loan assessments, increasing both the number and amount of student loans disbursed every year. The proposed increase to the Canada Student Grants Program will likely only benefit 20,000 people studying in public colleges.
“The government is telling students who have to work or whose parents can’t help them cover school costs to take on more loans with more interest in order to make ends meet,” added McCormick. “By reallocating ineffective tax credits and savings schemes into the Canada Student Grants Program, we could eliminate the need for federal student loans altogether without spending an extra dime.”
The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organisation, uniting more that one-half million students in all ten provinces. The Federation and its predecessor organisations have represented students in Canada since 1927.

Minimal minimum wage increase draws student criticism

VANCOUVER–Students were frustrated to hear that the BC government will not increase minimum wage to keep working people above the poverty line, despite calls for an increase from British Columbians.
“Minimum wage should immediately be increased so no one working 40 hours per week is forced to live below the poverty line,” said Zachary Crispin, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-BC. “The whole point of identifying a poverty line is to keep citizens above it.”
At $10.25 per hour, $6,000 below the poverty line for full-time workers, BC’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in Canada.
The Canadian Federation of Students-BC joined the British Columbia Federation of Labour’s call to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour. In addition to helping curb poverty, an increase would help students tackle the mounting student debt crisis. The Bank of Montreal estimates average student debt after a four-year degree is about $35,000.
At the current minimum wage, it takes students 550 hours of work just to pay for tuition fees.
“Christy Clark is offering working people pennies when housing, food, and education costs are going up by thousands,” said Crispin.
A report by the First Call: the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition released last November 2014 revealed that approximately 1 in 5 BC children were living in poverty in 2012, and that this number was growing. The report also found that BC had the second highest rates of poverty among provinces at 16.1%.
“Cutting taxes for the wealthy, adding fees to public services, and refusing to support a fair minimum wage will only result in increased poverty rates for BC families,” said Crispin.
The Canadian Federation of Students-BC is composed of post-secondary students from 15 universities and colleges in every region in BC. Post-secondary students in Canada have been represented by the Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organizations since 1927.
For more information, please contact:
Zachary Crispin, Chairperson 604.355.5014
Steven Beasley, spokesperson 604.733.1880