OC Faculty Association takes action on student debt

OCFA contest to give $1,000 to 30 current and former OC students with the greatest outstanding student debt load.

To highlight the crisis of student debt in our region, the Okanagan College Faculty Association is giving away 30 cheques for $1,000 to current and former OC students with the greatest student debt load. https://30drops.wordpress.com

The Okanagan College Faculty Association (OCFA) is sponsoring this contest with union dues paid by 302 faculty members and in collaboration with the faculty’s provincial affiliate the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE).

The OCFA is going this to call attention to the real world effects of the B.C. Liberal government’s  continual reduction of support of Okanagan College institution and the post-secondary education sector in general.

A press release from the OCFA said this ongoing lack of commitment to post-secondary education has resulted, first and foremost in rapidly rising student debt.

Some facts about this worsening crisis:

• The average post-secondary student in BC now graduates with $32,000 in student loan debt.

• BC students also pay the highest interest rates in Canada on these loans, typically owing between $12,500 and $27,500 in interest charges.

• Since 2001, per student funding in BC has declined by 20%, despite BC’s budgetary surpluses and the fact that our economy has more than doubled in size in the past 25 years.

• This situation has worsened each year since Premier Clark took office. Okanagan College has received reduced funding each year since her election, and has as a result been forced into a situation where annually raising tuition fees seems like the only option. This situation will worsen considerably in the upcoming year, now that the Province has chosen to cut financial support to students pursuing ESL or ABE courses.

• Each year since Premier Clark’s election, the government’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services (comprised primarily of Liberal MLAs) has urged the government to restore funding to the post-secondary system. Every year Premier Clark has chosen not to make this a priority.

• As such, the BC Ministry of Advanced Education is the only portfolio to have had its overall funding reduced since Premier Clark has taken office.

Faculty members believe that the citizens of the Okanagan/Shuswap share their belief that a properly funded public post-secondary system ought to be a priority of any forward-thinking government.

“Through this contest, (https://30drops.wordpress.com) we are hoping to draw attention to this issue and to encourage the public to join us in this campaign by taking a minute to sign up at www.openthedoors.ca.

“We also urge British Columbians to contact their local MLA (www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members) and ask them to urge the premier to restore funding to the post-secondary system in this year’s budget.

Eligibility/ how to apply:

All current or former Okanagan College students (from any department) are eligible to enter the contest, as long as they have completed at least one course from any program at OC since Sept. 1, 2005.

All applications must be received by mail, before noon Friday, Feb 26.

Download the application here: https://30drops.wordpress.com

Send them to OCFA Contest: 30 Drops Out of the Bucket

Attn: Deborah Warren

Okanagan College

Room E315 – 1000 KLO Road

Kelowna , BC V1Y 4X8

Winners will be announced by March 1, with a spreadsheet that gives a debt total for all who enter the contest.