The Alma Mater Society (AMS) of UBC Vancouver applauds the June 25, 2012 changes announced by Premier Christy Clark to student loan repayment relief available in British Columbia. The plan is designed to improve support given to the more than 20,000 BC low-income and disabled students who experience difficulties in repaying their student loans.
The Families First Agenda for British Columbia is set to be enacted by the government on July 1. In it, particular attention should be paid to the elements of the “Family Affordability Pillar” that change the B.C. student aid program. The new Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) is to be delivered in two stages; the first provides payment assistance for the interest portion of the student loan and the second provides payment assistance for the principal portion of a loan. The governments of B.C. and Canada have been working together over the last year to improve the RAP, bringing B.C. more closely in line with support provided elsewhere in Canada.
“This new program is a step in the right direction to increase the accessibility and affordability of postsecondary education in B.C.,” says AMS Vice-President External, Kyle Warwick. “It will allow the students most in need to complete their studies without overly worrying about their debt levels. While we appreciate this step, more work needs to be done to increase the overall affordability and accessibility of education for the majority of students.”
The AMS has been advocating for an improvement on the government’s student loans system for many years. While this plan represents a definite gain for the students who need the most support, it still does not fully recognize the pervasive burden created by high interest rates. “We remain cautiously optimistic” says AMS President, Matt Parson, “that our work on behalf of the 48,000 student attending UBC will result in improving their experience on our campus and lessening the legacy of debt.”