All Posts Tagged With: "Student Loans"
Liberals and NDP want to ditch “parental contributions”
Jesse LaPointe is no longer a third-year English major at St. Thomas University. He lives in an apartment in downtown Fredericton, N.B. with his single mother. He worked all summer every summer and almost 30 hours per week during the school year to try to pay for his education. This year, he decided to apply for a student loan to supplement his income so he could cover his tuition. The loan only came to $2,000 which would not even cover half of his $5,195 tuition cost, never mind mandatory fees and living expenses. The reason? LaPointe’s student loan assessment said his mother was required to cough up $4,000.
“She works like a dog… Still, I can’t see any possible reality where she can fork up $4,000,” he says. He was forced to drop out of university in October. He will take a year off to work and try for a loan again next year but, at this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty. “I’ll try my luck,” he says.
OECD report shows balance of access and quality
At a conference on media and higher education last week at the University of Toronto, administrators spoke of a “crisis narrative” in the coverage of post-secondary education. They said the media talks of how high tuition is, how governments don’t spend enough and how degrees don’t always lead to jobs. What we don’t report, they said, is how well our schools do.
They have a point. A new 438-page report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), called Education at a Glance 2013, is a reminder that Canada’s schools do a remarkably good job balancing access to education and quality, and prepping grads for jobs.
Federal government writes off $540-million in student loans
The federal government is writing off $231-million in unpaid student loans after exhausting “all reasonable efforts” to track down the money from more than 44,000 cases by 2012-13. The government absorbed even greater losses of about $312 million the year before. That’s half a billion dollars in just a couple of years.
The government has essentially thrown its hands in the air and given up on ever seeing a dime of that money, meaning a lot of people can start answering their phones again without fear of getting harassed by debt collectors.
Now, as someone who actually paid income taxes a few years ago, I am outraged that all these deadbeats are costing the public purse hundreds of millions each year. But as someone currently taking loans to fund my education, this gives me some hope of avoiding the full bill.
Five things students are talking about today (February 27th)
1. Research from the University of Guelph has shown that university arts majors and those in similar college programs are generally slower to pay off student loans than business, health and engineering students, even when starting salaries are controlled for. Sociologist David Walters, one of the researchers behind the study, said it’s unclear why, though his theories include “lack of numeracy” and less “life-planning skills” among arts types. I’d lean toward the life-planning skills—they did choose arts degrees, after all. And considering how critical of capitalism the arts tend to be, they’re probably more resentful about having to pay them back and more likely to want to stick it to the man by paying as slowly as possible. It makes sense. In Quebec it’s arts students who encouraged everyone to skip school and demand free tuition. (Disclaimer: I have an arts degree.)
2. A Ryersonian editorial gives two thumbs up to Tim Hudak’s plan to invest more in degrees that lead to jobs. The Ontario Progressive Conservative leader’s Path to Prosperity White Paper suggests financial aid be based on students’ choices of programs. “Decisions about who should receive loans,” it reads, “should involve assessments of future employability and reward good academic behaviour.” Naturally this led to a backlash from those in fields where degrees don’t (directly) lead to jobs, including from Professor Pettigrew. The Ryersonian says agriculture, fashion, family studies, theatre, philosophy, anthropology, archeology and political science should get less money while science, technology, engineering and math should get more.
No fraud reported so far
We’re sorry — and we’re trying to make sure it never happens again.
That’s the message from senior federal bureaucrats responsible for the loss of personal information belonging to more than half a million Canadians.
Human Resources and Development Canada lost an external hard drive and USB key last year, resulting in the massive privacy breach.
Both the RCMP and privacy commissioner are investigating and at least three class action lawsuits have been launched as a result.
Bureaucrats from the department apologized today in front of a House of Commons committee as they tried to explain what went wrong.
They say they’ve been monitoring for signs the data is being misused, but no fraud has been reported so far.
Prof. Pettigrew on the Ontario PC Party’s plan
The conservative Ontario PCs have released a new policy paper on higher education. Amid the usual boilerplate rhetoric that conservative politicians trot out on such occasions was this little gem regarding student loans:
Decisions about who should receive loans and how much money is to be awarded should involve assessments of future employability and reward good academic behaviour. Rewarding good behaviour means not only making the smart and efficient choice about where to go to school, but also keeping students accountable for how they choose to spend the money the government is lending them. To maintain aid, students must demonstrate a minimum level of academic success. Too often, our loans and grants programs reward mediocrity.
It takes a while for the magnitude of what is being proposed here to hit you. When it does, you realize that the PCs are proposing twisting the student loan system into a bureaucratic nightmare of nearly Orwellian proportions.
Names, SIN numbers, contact info. missing
A federal agency has lost a portable hard drive containing personal information about more than half a million people who took out student loans.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada said Friday the device contained data on 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006.
The missing files include student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of borrowers, as well as the personal contact information of 250 department employees.
Borrowers from Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories during this time period are not affected.
No Money Down tuition proposals make sense
Sometime in the mid-1990s, when I was a doctoral student at the University of Waterloo, I ended up chatting with a couple of very energetic student advocates who stopped by my office. Waterloo was at that time going through some kind of vote regarding their student union and earnest activists were everywhere.
Then, as now, the topic of how to deal with rising tuition fees was in the air, and I noted that I had been intrigued by what was then commonly called “income-contingent” loan repayment. The basic idea was that you could borrow what you needed through the regular venues of student loans, but then when it came time to repay the loans, the rate at which you had to repay would depend on how much money you were making at the time.
Avicii, Beer4Breakfast, Bedpush, Trudeau & Ryan Gosling
1. Honouring the American tradition of free speech and big lawsuits, the University of California Davis has set aside $980,000 to settle with 21 students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during an otherwise peaceful Occupy protest last November. Students will get $30,000 each; the plaintiffs’ attorneys will get $250,000.
2. An online reality show called Beer4Breakfast is looking for Canada’s best party city by visiting a number of campuses in southwestern Ontario, reports the Western Gazette. The show’s producers say they will supply a party host with a bartender, DJ and professional photographer and then grade it based on party tricks, popularity, originality, team morale and shock factor. What could possibly go wrong?
3. Skiers near Flagstaff, Arizona will soon be gliding atop fake snow made from 100 per cent sewage effluent. “It’s a disaster, culturally and environmentally,” Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity told the New York Times, adding that he worries about the impact on the alpine tundra and to humans should skiers fall into the treated sewer-water snow and ingest it.
Lady Gaga, “swarmings” in Ottawa and riot justice
1. Lady Gaga’s latest bit of performance art/marketing is called “Sleeping with Gaga.” Last night, she climbed into a structure at New York’s Guggenheim and encouraged celebrities like Paris Hilton and Marc Jacobs to touch her while she slept. Oh, and she also got a new tattoo that some say looks like Honey Boo Boo, the proud redneck beauty queen who stars in the eponymous TLC show. (Not making this up.)
2. Sweden isn’t the fairytale land we Canadians sometimes imagine it to be. A drunk man, 38, fell onto the tracks at a metro station south of Stockholm and instead of being helped up to safety, he was robbed of his wallet, gold chain and mobile phone. The thief calmly fled. The victim was then hit by the train and seriously injured.
3. Ottawa isn’t safe either, apparently. An 18-year-old male was charged after two “swarmings” near the University of Ottawa. Hanten Hersi and an unidentified accomplice are accused of stealing from three people in two separate incidents. At one point, they showed a gun to a woman before robbing her. The second suspect is described as a 5’7″ to 5’10″ tall black male with dreadlocks.
A new monkey, Iran’s student club and new world rankings
1. Scientists say they’ve discovered a new species of monkey living in the remote forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s only the second new monkey discovered in nearly three decades. The researchers have published on Cercopithecus Lomamiensis in Plos One. The monkey is known to locals as “Lesula.” Okay, so in that way, it’s not an entirely new discovery.
2. The president of the Iranian Cultural Association of Carleton University, a student group, solicited money for the club from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, reports Maclean’s Michael Petrou. The now-closed Iranian embassy obliged, providing financial support. Canada lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.
It takes a lot of creativity to finance second degrees
Last fall, when Kristen Pennington started at the University of Toronto faculty of law, she was surprised to learn of “an assumption” that students wouldn’t work during the school year. “I’d never been in school and not worked,” the 22-year-old says. “It wasn’t a question.”
During her first year in law school, Pennington held down three part-time jobs: she worked as an after-hours receptionist at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, as an executive assistant for a lawyer, and as manager of the undergraduate residence at Glendon Campus, part of York University, where she also lived rent-free. “I worked for my room,” she says. “It was a great expense to cross off the list.” The commute from Glendon to U of T’s downtown campus, on public transit, was “45 minutes on a good day.”
Premier Christy Clark announces plan to forgive more loans, provide more help with repayment
B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced her government’s plan to help students repay their provincial loans. Effective July 1, students with incomes above the previous limit to receive relief will qualify for reduced repayments, the Province reports.
“The new repayment assistance plan is based on the borrowers ability to pay, meaning that income, family size and student loan debt-load are all accounted for in the eligibility process,” Clark told reporters, quoted by the Province. “Our goal is to replace previous programs that were intended to help students manage their loans.”
The changes will help students in two stages, Clark explained. The first will help students pay the interest on their debt, while the second will focus on paying down the principal on their loans.
Average student debt in B.C. is more than $27,000 after the completion of a four-year program, the highest of any province west of the Maritimes, according to the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia. The organization says tuition fees in the province have more than doubled since 2001.
Man pretends to be student loan official
Police in Durham, Ont. say someone is trying to scam current and future university and college students. Durham Regional Police have heard several complaints of a man calling and pretending he’s from the National Student Loan Centre. The suspect asks people to fax him copies of passports, Social Insurance Numbers and other personal details. He may be planning identity theft.
Student groups reject gov’t offers as deadline approaches
The student strike in Quebec, ignited by a $1,625 tuition increase over the next five years, is now the longest in provincial history—and participants may soon pass a point of no return.
Professors’ contracts require the semester to end by June 15 and some universities are hinting that the entire semester will be in jeopardy for students who don’t go back in time to meet that deadline.
The Université de Montréal, Quebec’s largest, announced Wednesday that it will extend the term into May for students who have already returned to class.
At the same time, it said it can no longer guarantee students who haven’t returned that they will be able to finish their semesters. Groups representing around 25 per cent of U de M are still on strike.
Goodbye parental contribution
Aside from promising no tuition, one of the most interesting ideas in the Alberta Liberals’ platform last week was that they would no longer consider parental income when students apply for loans.
In this week’s budget, the Progressive Conservative government beat them too it, with a plan that does away with parental contributions as of Aug. 1. Students will need to contribute a flat rate of just $1,500 to their educations before they’ll be considered eligible for student loans. They’ll no longer be rejected based on savings, part-time job earnings or high parental incomes.
Students have long argued that it’s unfair to deny them loans based on their parents’ incomes. After all, just because your parents earned a certain amount, it doesn’t mean they’ll share it with you.
Guess which universities get the least student financial aid
You know the stereotype that Queen’s University attracts rich kids? The one played up in this recent viral video in which a student jokes: “I don’t know what financial aid is, but Queen’s has it.”
Well, if the number of students receiving financial assistance is any indication, it’s very likely true.
Queen’s University has the lowest number of students receiving Ontario Student Assistance in the province: only 29.6 per cent of students.
Contrast that to Nipissing University in the relatively poorer north of Ontario, where twice as many—59.6 per cent—get loans. It’s almost as high at Trent University—59.3 per cent.
And Saskatchewan may give you $20,000
For students who want a guaranteed job after graduation, nothing comes closer than nursing in Saskatchewan. According to the Regina Leader-Post, the government has hired 900 nurses since 2008, but could need as many as 2,000 more in the next two years if those set to retire do so as planned. There were already 449 nursing jobs being advertised in the province last month.
The government has increased seats at post-secondary schools for registered nurses dramatically in the past four years: from 300 in 2006 to 690 now, but that likely won’t be enough.
That’s why, in last week’s Throne Speech, the government announced that seats in universities to train nurse practitioners—highly-paid advanced nurses who often have the ability prescribe drugs—will grow from 30 to 50 per year. The shortage is also the reason the government says it will forgive $20,000 of student loans for recent nursing graduates who work in rural and remote communities for at least five years. It’s easy to see why Saskatchewan is being so agreesive about training, wooing and keeping nurses: neighbouring Alberta is on a nurse hiring spree right now too.
Why Canadian students graduate with more debt, not less
Canadians are graduating with more debt than their American counterparts—despite the well-known higher sticker prices south of the border.
In the U.S., average debt at graduation rose to $25,250 in 2010, according to a Nov. 3 report by the Project on Student Debt. Here in Canada, students were graduating with an average debt of $26,680 according to a 2009 report released by the Millennium Scholarship Foundation. If anything, the Canadian average is higher now.
The numbers seem almost impossible: isn’t tuition ridiculously high in the U.S.?
Parents are expected to pay. But what if they can’t or won’t?
University of New Brunswick student Ben Whitney has a $5,000 hole in his budget this year thanks to the re-introduction of the parental contribution requirement for student loan funding in that province. He was loaned $8,000 last year, before the change. This year, the third-year student got just $3,000 because of what his parents—a middle manager and a secretary—took home last year from work. The 20-year-old’s parents are expected to make-up the difference. It’s money that Whitney says his parents don’t have this year.
But the issue of parental contributions, which he’s taken up with verve, means a lot more to him than sudden penury. “It’s also a matter of principle,” says Whitney. “As an adult, I shouldn’t have to depend on my parents until I’m 22,” he says. “It’s also a matter of pride to have to call my parents and ask, can you send me $20 so I can buy a bottle of shampoo?” he says. But he can’t afford such luxuries otherwise, even with a part-time job.