A debt clock on the Canadian Federation of Students’ website shows the overall student debt is now more than $13 billion. And that’s just the federal portion of student loans. It doesn’t include the 40 per cent of loans that come from provinces or private sources & it doesn’t include any interest.
Student loan debt in Canada surpassed the $13 billion mark last month, for the first time in the nation’s history.
“The students and families who can least afford to pay for post-secondary education are carrying a $13 billion burden,” says Katherine Giroux-Bougard, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Saddling a generation of students with billions in debt will have far reaching implications for Canada’s economy and socioeconomic inequality.”
According to the federation, total student loans owed to the federal government increases by about $1 million a day. The $13 billion of national student debt does not include approximately $5 billion in provincial student loan debt or personal debt such as credit cards, lines of credits, bank loans and family loans. This school year alone, almost 360,000 students required loans from the federal government.
In an open letter
to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty ahead of the Jan. 27 budget, the federation proposed ways to improve access to post-secondary education and reduce student debt through increasing the Canada Social Transfer for post-secondary education, improving
financial support for graduate and Aboriginal students and more funding for student summer jobs.
Giroux-Bougard says CFS was disappointed to see that unlike the American economic plan, the Canadian budget didn’t address growing student debt and access to post-secondary education.
“At current levels, student debt depresses consumer spending and could harm the Canadian economy’s recovery,” she says. “The federal government missed an important opportunity to help students and their families out of a $13 billion hole. Compared to what’s on the table for American universities and colleges, this budget is underwhelming.”
U.S. President Barack Obama’s stimulus money increases each student’s Pell Grant by $500 and nearly $500 million will be spent on financial support for student jobs, among other measures.