The B.C. and federal governments have some good news for students who have to take out loans to pay for their education.
Victoria and Ottawa have fully integrated their individual student loan programs, resulting in a single loan for students to manage and repay through a single, central service.
“Our government understands the importance of post-secondary education and the challenges that students face.” said Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, who made the announcement on behalf of federal Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley at UBC’s Okanagan campus Wednesday.
“That’s why we’re getting rid of the red-tape and making it easier for B.C. students to manage their loans.”
By combining the provincial and federal loans into one and having it administered by the federal government, Cannan said the total amount will now be covered by Ottawa’s student loan Repayment Assistance Plan. In the pst the plan only covered federal student loans.
In addition, multi-year loans will be introduced in B.C. to save students having to re-apply every year, said Cannan.
Tim Krupa, a fourth year science student at UBCO, who represents students on the university’s board, welcomed the move saying it will make life easier for students who take out loans.
He said while only 20 per cent of students UBCO have student loans, the issue of borrowing money can affect accessibility for some students because of the cost of tuition.
But while he welcomed the governments’ move, Kurpa said issues like tuition rates continue to be a higher priority for the most students while they are at school.
Cannan, who did not know how many students in B.C. the loan change will affect, said in addition to the joint provincial-federal move, the amount of money a student can borrow will also now be based on family income, circumstance and size.
“This way students will have to spend less time dealing with their loans and have more time for the studies,” said the local MP.
Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson, who was also on hand for the announcement, said B.C. is the fifth province in Canada to join with Ottawa to combine their student loan programs.