Newfoundland Leads Again: No More Student Loans!

                               For related story, see Nova Scotia Goes Interest-Free, Will You? 

Replace our student loans with non-repayable grants?

In much of Europe, that would be standard thinking. But in Canada, it has sounded like an impossible dream. Instead, student debt has piled ever-higher despite pleas from parents, students and lobby groups such as the Canadian Federation of Students.

Yet the province called Newfoundland and Labrador has taken the leap.

 As the CBC recently reported in provincial budget news, Newfoundland and Labrador will replace its student loans system with needs-based grants to qualifying students.

The new system will be phased in over the next two school years. On August 1, 2014, provincial student loan amounts will be cut by $20 per week of study, while the grant portion is increased by $20.
As a result, students would be eligible to receive a maximum of $40 per study week in the form of a loan and $100 per study week as a grant.
The next year (starting August 1, 2015) provincial student loans will be completely replaced with non-repayable grants.

 Clearly, Newfoundland and Labrador plans to cement its status as Canada’s #1 region for affordable education.

 Stats Canada records already place it as Canada's haven for lowest tuition. And during the past decade, this province has also made Canada’s most aggressive moves to contain student loan costs.

 For example, back in 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador became the first province to end interest charges on provincial student loans .

We wrote about that at the time as a ground-breaking move that responded to strong public demand.

 For nearly 4 years, no other Canadian government followed suit. But then came Prince Edward Island in 2012 and Nova Scotia in 2014.

 Now, just as the idea of interest-free loans student has started to grow, Newfoundland and Labrador has made another paradigm shift.

 It has also announced plans to maintain the long-running freeze on tuition fees at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic. In addition, it promises funding to upgrade residences and labs at Memorial U.

 Note that the new program will not cover all students who attend local campuses. There are eligibility and course-load requirements, as you can see on this provincial student aid page

Also, the federal government will still continue to charge top dollar for Canada Student loans.

But kudos to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador for breaking with Canada’s trend of passing more and more debt on students.

To those who associate all Conservatives with the US Republican policies of Stephen Harper , the latest higher education announcements from Premier Tom Marshall’s Tory government may be an eye-opener.

Let’s hope public pressure causes other provinces to follow the leader when it comes to affordable education!

© Jeannine Mitchell 2014