UBC students applaud BC Finance Committee recommendations that would make post-secondary education more affordable

The Alma Mater Society of UBC (AMS) praises BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services for recommending expanded post-secondary funding, including possible establishment of a new up-front needs-based student grant program and
the elimination of interest on student loans

Vancouver, BC, November 27, 2018 – The BC legislature’s Finance Committee has recommended a series of budgetary measures that would make post-secondary education in BC more affordable and accessible.

In its 2018 budget consultation report, BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services made a number of recommendations unanimously, including eliminating interest on student loans, creating a needs-based student grant program, and expanding the production of open-access textbooks, which are free and easily accessible online. The Committee also proposed to increase operational funding for post-secondary institutions, although the levels of funding are not yet determined. In addition the Committee recommended supporting reconciliation initiatives with Indigenous peoples.

“It’s so exciting to see that the Committee has taken up a central issue being pushed by student societies across the province – that BC establish a comprehensive up front, needs-based student grant program,” commented  Cristina Ilnitchi, the Vice President External Affairs for the AMS. “These important changes go to the heart of the rising costs students are experiencing and would make post-secondary education in BC significantly more affordable, improving access for low- and middle income families. We hope that the government leadership embraces the Committee’s proposals in the 2019 budget.”

Other provinces are already providing post-secondary students with up-front, needs-based student grants. For example, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) provides support equal to or higher than the average cost of tuition for students with family income under $50,000, and single independent students who earn less than $30,000, although many students and families with incomes beyond these thresholds also benefit from the grants.

The ever-increasing cost of post-secondary education – including tuition, fees, and textbooks, combined with the rising costs of housing – means that many students not only experience financial hardship during their studies, but are saddled with significant debt upon graduation. The Spring 2018 AMS survey conducted by Insights West indicates that 43% of UBC undergraduate students and 48% of graduate students experience financial hardship related to tuition and other expenses. Of the 37% of UBC students that anticipate debt upon graduation, 62% expect to owe more than $25,000, and 35% expect a debt of more than $50,000.

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