04 MARCH 2011
Green Party Supports Student March on the Legislature
The New Brunswsick Green Party supports post-secondary students in New Brunswick in their efforts to get the attention of the government on the issue of financing their education. The Alward government has signalled its intention to cut services in its upcoming budget in an attempt to get the deficit under control. Students want to make sure that what is already an untenable situation does not get even worse.
Green Party post-secondary education advocate Kathleen MacDougall stated, « Students are already labouring under a huge debt load at the end of their time in college or university. Many are forced to leave the province after graduation in order to find jobs that pay well enough to support those debts. This trend has to be reversed if New Brunswick is going to advance. Any budget cuts that make that problem worse might look good on the provincial balance sheets, but it will undermine the educational and life prospects for our young people, and the long term prospects of our province. »
The Green Party presented several measures in its election platform that directly address the financial needs of students. These include:
- Make all provincial student loans interest-free, including all outstanding loans.
- Develop a program whereby university or college graduates could have their student loans forgiven by working for a set period in a social enterprise (non-profit or cooperative) in return for a minimum stipend.
- Apply the current $26,000 cap on student debt (New Brunswick residents) to all loans retroactively and over time reduce the cap to $20,000.
- Extend the grace period of six months from graduation to one year before repayment of student loans begins.
- Increase funding for bursaries.
Students are much more likely to stay in New Brunswick after graduation if their debt load is manageable. It is the responsibility of the government to enable our young adults to get out from under the burden of debt they now face. To make this burden even greater is counter-productive for students and the province as a whole.
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