Ltr to Ed: BC Government can't continue to ignore student debt crisis
Re: High student debt levels stress students, lead to delays in starting families
August 16, 2013
According to a recent study by BMO, students in British Columbia are graduating with the highest amount of debt in the country. At approximately $35,000, average debt upon graduation in BC is well above the $27,000 national average.
These numbers come as no surprise to students.
Since 2001, tuition fees have more than doubled at every institution in the province. At the peak of skyrocketing tuition fees, the government eliminated the BC Student Grants Program, the main source of non-repayable financial aid for students.
With youth unemployment at double the rate of the general population, more and more students and their families have no choice but to turn to public and private loans to pay to attend college or university. But with interest rates on student loans being higher in BC than any other province, this financial assistance comes at a high price.
The BC government needs to look at the long- and short- term effects that debt among graduates will have on the province’s economy. Being saddled with education-related debt means more and more young people are putting off buying houses or new vehicles, starting a family, and making meaningful contributions to the economy.
By continuously increasing tuition fees and allowing BC students to accumulate significant amounts of debt, the government is transferring its responsibility to fund education onto the backs of students and their families. The solution is easy: make post-secondary education a priority by increasing funding and provide needs-based, non-repayable student financial assistance—British Columbia’s students, our families, and the economy depend on it.