A total investment of $419 million
By Lauren Kelly, News Editor
The Canadian government has recently revealed its 2015 Federal Budget, which includes significant changes to the Canada Student Loan and Canada Student Grant programs for 2016–17. These changes will make it easier for both current and prospective students to attend post-secondary institutions.
With the new guidelines, low- and middle-income students entering programs that last at least 34 weeks will now be eligible to receive a student grant; previously, the number was 60. This change will facilitate entry into the many one-year and shorter programs that help quickly move students into the work force. These grants do not have to be paid back to the government. The new budget promises an investment of $184 million over four years. According to the budget, the 2012–13 year saw students receive $695 million in grants.
Another change will come with the elimination of in-study earnings altering students’ loan amounts by investing $116 million over four years. Currently, every dollar over $100 a student earns per week is deducted from the amount they receive. This is being changed so as to not penalize students for working during their education. This will also mean that students will receive extra money even if they have the means to contribute due to their employment.
The new guidelines will also reduce the expected parental contribution with an investment of $119 million. Currently, the student loan program assumes that the student’s parents will be contributing a certain amount of funds to their studies based on their yearly earnings. Although this will not be eliminated entirely, the students will receive more money than before.
Further proposed changes that should benefit students are the amendments to the Canadian Labour Code, which include increased protection for interns. There will be tighter regulations on the conditions under which an unpaid internship can be offered, as well as ensuring that interns have “occupational health and safety protections.”
Overall, a total of $419 million will be invested over four years.
Although some of these provisions make it easier to receive student loans, and in higher amounts, this can be seen as a negative for students. “Students are graduating with record levels of debt, and there are already over 200,000 graduates struggling to make payments each month,” Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, said in a press release by the organization. “Weighing Canadians down with enormous debts as they start their careers drags back economic growth.”