Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Student Debt Passes $13 Billion

Student Debt Surpasses $13 Billion

Students Call on Returning MPs to Increase Funding to Reduce Tuition Fees and Debt

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

VANCOUVER--

Canada Student Loan debt will surpass $13 billion today, for the first time in the nation’s history. In response, students across BC held free campus soup kitchens throughout the week and awareness-raising events to call on Members of Parliament returning to work next week to take immediate action to reduce tuition fees and student debt.

“Federal and provincial funding cuts have caused tuition fees in BC to double since 2002,” said Shamus Reid, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students–BC. “Today, we are telling our Members of Parliament enough is enough, students need relief.”

Total student loans owed to the Government of Canada increase by $1.2 million a day. The $13 billion figure does not include approximately $5 billion in provincial student loan debt across Canada or personal debt such as credit cards, bank loans, and family loans. This school year, almost 360,000 students required loans from the federal government.

In an open letter to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Federation of Students has called for an increase to the Canada Social Transfer for post-secondary education, graduate student funding, financial support for Aboriginal students, and to student summer jobs funding. Students in BC are calling on the provincial government to reduce tuition fees in the upcoming provincial budget, invest in up-front student grants, and eliminate interest on student loans.

“The best way to weather the current economic downturn is to invest in social programs, especially post-secondary education,” said Reid. “Affordable public post-secondary education will allow BC and Canada to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy.”

Members of the public can send their own message to their Member of Parliament at www.cfs.bc.ca.

The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organisation. It is composed of more than 80 university and college students’ unions with a combined membership of over one-half million students, including 150,000 students in BC.


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