While the third pillar of the Liberals’ “families first” agenda focuses on student loan repayment assistance, it does very little to improve overall post-secondary affordability and access, and fails to create incentives for students to seek the further training needed for the jobs of today.
Minor changes to existing program
The B.C. student loan Repayment Assistance Plan appears to provide no new funding for students struggling with debt. It only replaces the current Interest Relief program to come in-line with the relief the federal government already offers.
Doesn’t address high student-loan interest rates
Students in British Columbia are saddled with the highest student loan interest rates in the country at prime + 2.5 per cent and student debt in B.C is amongst the highest in Canada at an average of over $27,000. Providing minimal support for repaying student loans doesn’t help address the root cause of growing student debt.
Nothing to increase accessibility
Tuition has more than doubled under the B.C. Liberals. This announcement does nothing to provide the kind of up-front assistance low and middle-income families need to access education.
Minimal support for the average student
While the plan does provide some extra support for low-income families when repaying their student loans, the first stage only provides assistance for the interest portion, while it takes years to reach the second stage which helps with the principal. The average recently-graduated student may not even qualify
Michelle Mungall, New Democrat critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development: “This announcement shows that once again the Liberals are off the mark when it comes to creating affordable post-secondary education for British Columbians. It’s great that some low-income families are going to get a little extra support but it doesn’t go far enough to ensure people get the training they need and British Columbia needs for a strong economy.
“Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats have made it clear that tackling the skilled labour shortage would be one of the top priorities of a New Democrat government. By removing barriers to advanced education with our fully-costed needs-based student grant program, we will help British Columbians access opportunities and also help employers find the skilled workers they need.”