Budget debt cap pleases students

    By Alyssa Mosher

    When Kayla Brown heard that the Government of New Brunswick issued a debt cap of $26,000 for university students, she liked the idea.

    “That would be amazing,” she said.

    Brown is a second-year student at St. Thomas who relies on student loans.

    “I really wanted to go to STU just because it had a great Education program. First [year] you get $2,000 off of your tuition and that helped a lot because I had to do full student loans,” Brown said.

    The $2,000 First Year Student Bursary Brown received is given to all New Brunswick residents who attend a university in the province. But not everyone has been satisfied with the government’s initiatives.

    The New Brunswick Student Alliance has spent the last few years lobbying for the government to give students the financial help they need, including a debt cap program. They argue that with an average debt of $34,000, university often isn’t an option to New Brunswick residents.

    Brown said that at the end of her four-year Bachelor of Arts program, she will be at least $35,000 in debt. She then plans on continuing into the Education program at STU, which will add even more to her debt load. She said paying off her student loans won’t be easy.

    “Hopefully it will be easier if I get a substitute teaching job.”

    This year’s budget is about “transformational change in the province through a balanced approach of strategic investments. [It] provides strong, focused and determined leadership in the face of a sustained global economic and financial crisis,” Finance Minister Victor Boudreau said during the budget presentation last Wednesday.

    The budget includes the debt reduction for timely completion benefit to help undergraduate students who finish their degrees on time. As of April 1, 2009, students will have to pay back a maximum of $26,000 on their student loans.

    This means that if Brown comes out of university with a $35,000 student loan, the government will forgive $9,000.

    The provincial government hopes the cap will bring New Brunswick student debt closer to the national average of $24,000.

    The news of this financial relief satsified Brown.

    “They’re trying to help people actually further their education,” she said. “That would be so…helpful especially because once you’re out of university, sometimes it’s hard to get a job right away [but] you have to start paying student loans.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here