Maritime university graduates are paying an average of $31,047 for their education, according to a Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission report released in June.
The report on the Class of 2003 also said less than 25 per cent of students who borrowed to finance their education had managed to pay off their debt five years after graduation.
“New Brunswick and Maritime students continue to accrue crippling levels of debt,” said Dennis Desroches, president of the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations. “The prospect of significant debt results, at best, in students working as many as two or three jobs while trying to maintain good grades, and at worst, in deterring students from attending university altogether.”
The report also noted that tuition fees have increased between 20 and 35 per cent over the past decade.
“Student debt levels also have profound effects on the professoriate, as student debt increases further as students pursue graduate education,” Desroches said. “Student debt has become faculty debt, to the point where studies at the graduate level have become less and less realistic for talented students. This means, for the future, that not only will attending university increasingly become, as it once was, a mark of privilege, but also teaching there.”
Geography continues to be a major determining factor to the accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada. Tuition fees in Ontario are currently the highest in the country at $5,951, followed by Nova Scotia at $5,696. Tuition fees are $2,619 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“For 20 years students in Nova Scotia paid the highest tuition fees in the country,” said Elise Graham, chairperson for the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students.“The only sure-fire way to reduce student debt is to invest in grants and reduce tuition fees.”