Student debt fears rise with impending semester

UVSS prepares to launch Where's the Funding campaign

Debt isn’t usually a hot topic for students on summer vacation, but University of Victoria students are already planning how they’ll attack their No. 1 issue this fall.

The UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) is preparing to launch the WTF (Where’s the Funding) campaign, with the goal of turning around B.C.’s tarnished reputation for post-secondary funding.

Students in B.C. are graduating with an average $27,000 of debt, according to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), and B.C. remains the only province in Canada that doesn’t have a provincial grants program in place.

“What we’re looking at now is dire financial times,” said UVic Students’ Society chair Tara Paterson. “What the campaign will do is push both the major political parties to prioritize post-secondary education, should there be an election in the fall. If (no election happens), we’re looking to see some real governmental action from the B.C. Liberals.”

The three main goals of the campaign are to convince government to increase core post-secondary funding; reduce or eliminate interest on student loans; and reinstate a provincial grants program.

In 2002, the Liberals deregulated tuition fees, and consequently, they doubled in three years.

By the CFS’ calculations, tuition fees in B.C. are now 10 per cent more than the national average, at $6,580 per year. The province, however, estimated tuition fees at $4,802 for the 2010-11 year.

Regardless of the provincial average, with the current interest rate at 2.5 per cent above prime, a student’s $27,000 debt would balloon to $35,000 over a 10-year repayment period.

Michel Turcotte, director of operations for the Camosun College Student Society, says they draw on the CFS – which the UVSS voted to leave last year – to educate their members and raise such political issues as student debt.

Part of that education, he says, is planning for graduation and knowing when to apply for interest relief before defaulting on repayments.

The Ministry of Advanced Education has invested $2.5 billion in student financial assistance programs since 2001, including grants for students with disabilities and interest relief programs.

“When you need (financial assistance) you can’t get it,” Turcotte said. “If you go into default status, you have to clear that up before you can go into loan remission status.”

The CFS’s ongoing campaign against the rising cost of education, Education Shouldn’t be a Debt Sentence, includes an online petition based on principles identical to the WTF campaign.

“While tuition fees are going up and the quality of our education is decreasing, a generation of students is being bankrupted,” Paterson said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

Victoria businesses remain plastic-bag free, despite court ruling

Business association says no one has inquired into re-establishing the use of plastic bags

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Saanich Mayor says ‘no costs asked of municipality’ for proposed film studio

Mayor Fred Haynes made that comment after questions from watchdog group

RCMP identify Sidney bank robbery suspect, believe he is still on Vancouver Island

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Most Read