The VIP’s Student Aid Policy Reform
Today, Dr. Robin Richardson, Leader of The Vancouver Island Party (VIP), announced his Party’s progressive policy for free tuition and reduced student debt for students in Vancouver Island colleges and universities, once Vancouver Island becomes the eleventh province of Canada.
“We are promising this student aid policy reform so that university and college tuition will be free for many VanIsle families. Also we want to reduce onerous student debt burdens”, said Dr. Richardson, a former college professor. “As VanIslers, this is what we do; we help those who most need it.”
A Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce poll shows Canadian students’ debt and job prospects top the list of back-to-school concerns. The 2016 poll shows that:
- Some 48% of students are most worried about covering tuition and living expenses for the school year as well as repaying school-related debt, of which 36% expect to be $25,000 or more when they graduate.
- Some 37% of post-secondary students say finding a job that pays well after graduation is also a top concern.
The VIP free tuition policy will have the following conditions:
- Eligible students must be from families with an annual income of $60,000 or less.
- Eligible students will have residency of at least four years on Vancouver Island prior to enrolment in a publicly funded Vancouver Island college or university.
- Eligible students must have a “B” student grade average in middle and high school.
- Foreign students are not eligible for this benefit.
The Government of Canada provides grants for students with low income and many middle class Vancouver Island families. Through this new VIP bursary, the Government of Vancouver Island will pay the difference between the federal grant provided to an eligible student and the amount owing for that student’s tuition.
“Education is one of the keys to Vancouver Island’s future”, said Dr. Richardson. “ It is said that a good job coupled with the opportunity to be trained and educated for that job is the best social program. The VIP will introduce employment programs to help students gain work experience and develop skills during and after their studies. This includes a preferential hiring policy to encourage graduates to have their careers on Vancouver Island.”
Reduce Student Debt
Student debt in British Columbia, at $35,000, is the third highest average student debt in Canada. BC also charges the highest interest rates on student loans in the country. Tuition is not the highest, but the cost of living, especially in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland and Victoria, is contributing to this huge debt load.
The economic and social consequences of the high level and cost of financing a postsecondary education are:
- Difficulty in starting a business, starting families, buying houses and being active and engaged citizens in the local economy.
- Delayed retirement of BC parents who help fund their children’s university education.
- Mental health problems (especially depression) for some students who worry about their future.
- Barriers to under-represented groups such as aboriginals and others from impoverished backgrounds, as well as from middle-class homes.
Recognizing these problems, a Government of Vancouver Island would:
1.Eliminate interest rates on provincial student loans.
2.Continue the B.C. Loan Forgiveness Program that forgives student debt, but only for students with certain degrees and who are willing to work in certain areas of Vancouver Island.
Dr. Richardson concluded..” Something has to be done for our VanIsle college and university students ! Everyone agrees VanIslers need to be far more educated to contend in the globalized competition that is the 21st century. But, right now, our students are being crushed under the weight of the debt they are accumulating, just trying to compete.