Edmonton, Alberta – Alberta’s student leaders are welcoming changes announced today to the province’s student financial aid programs. Starting on August 1, 2012 post-secondary students will be able to access student loans with fewer restrictions.
“These are positive changes that will hopefully lead more Albertans to enroll in post-secondary education this fall,” said Zack Moline, Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and President of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union. “We’ve asked for these changes for a while, as they should allow more students to qualify for loans. But we must keep working to ensure students receiving loans are not crippled by debt after their studies.”
CAUS has long advocated for the removal of parental income in student loan considerations and for increasing grants available to students. Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada and financial barriers are a big reason of those discouraging figures. Today’s announcement is the right step towards improving participation and our student financial aid system.
“We are happy to see the government taking action by getting more aid to students,” Moline explained. “However, we must take the other side of the equation into account. Student debt is far too high in Alberta. Removing our remission system and replacing it with completion grants just moves money around. More needs to be done so students can finish their programs without the need to take out huge loans in the first place.”
Alberta’s student leaders welcome increased investment in post-secondary institutions, but feel more needs to be done to get Albertans to school in the first place.
The proposed 2012 provincial budget contains a two per cent increase for base operating funding for Alberta’s public universities, colleges, and technical institutes with a commitment to similar increases over the next three years.
“The increase to operating funds held steady for three years is a positive step,” said Zack Moline, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and President at the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union.
The funding boost follows three years of budget cuts and frozen operating grants despite increased cost pressures in Alberta’s post-secondary classrooms.
“We hope that 2012’s increases eliminate institutions’ reliance on the non-instructional fees they have been charging to students as tuition by another name,” added Moline.
Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada and there are no goals to improve it next year. The only foreseeable target is a one per cent increase by 2015, keeping our province in last place nationally. Financial concerns like education costs and rising debt remain a major barrier to getting students to begin or even finish their degree.
“We want our province to set bold goals when it comes to post-secondary education. This modest operating increase will help, but we need to see more. The budget sets a goal no higher than the status quo, which is already the lowest in Canada,” Moline concluded.
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The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) represents the interests of students at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge.
For more information contact:
e-mail: email@example.com Duncan Wojtaszek
CAUS Executive Director