FAIRNESS IN INTEREST GRACE PERIOD Eliminating the Interest During a Student s Immediate Post-Loan Grace Period 49% $716

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1 FAIRNESS IN INTEREST GRACE PERIOD Eliminating the Interest During a Student s Immediate Post-Loan Grace Period Currently, at the conclusion of a student loan period, students are given a six month grace period to begin repaying their loans. At the same time however, interest accrual begins immediately upon conclusion of a student s study period. The grace period is designed as a means of allowing the transition from program of study into the work force and is important for ensuring education affordability. By charging interest during the grace period, loan repayment is extended and overall interest paid to repay the loan is increased, often without the student being aware. AROUND 49% OF STUDENTS BELIEVE THERE IS NO INTEREST ACCRUED DURING THE GRACE PERIOD According to the Canadian Student Survey in 2009, 49.7% of students surveyed believed that interest did not begin accruing until the conclusion of the six month grace period. 1 Only 12.5% of respondents were able to correctly identify when interest began accruing. This reflects the confusing and disingenuous nature of a repayment grace period where interest is still being charged. For the median student loan holder repaying their student loan over a ten year period, this grace period interest results in an additional over the duration of their repayment option. For those taking out larger loans, this number obviously increases substantially. GRACE PERIOD INTEREST COSTS 716 FOR THE AVERAGE STUDENT 2 THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA END THE ACCRUAL OF INTEREST DURING THE STUDENT LOAN GRACE PERIOD FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF STUDY AT A COST THAT HAS BEEN ESTIMATED BY THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE OF 10 MILLION https://studentaidbc.ca/plan/debt#repayment

2 FAIRNESS IN THE COST OF EDUCATION Reducing or Eliminating Student Loan Interest At 2.5% above prime, British Columbia has the highest student loan interest rates of any province in Canada, tied only with New Brunswick. Student Loans are the primary means for low income British Columbians to access higher education, which has been shown to be the most reliable way of ensuring higher earnings over time. With around half of all students in post-secondary taking out loans, those that do take loans pay considerably more for their education than those who don t. For students who can complete their studies without student loans, the average four year undergraduate degree will cost them 16,680 in tuition in British Columbia. 1 The median BC student loan amount after graduation is 20,000 which, assuming they are able to complete repayments in the recommended ten year time, results in interest paid of 6, PROVINCIAL STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES BRITISH COLUMBIA ALBERTA MANITOBA SASKATCHEWAN ONTARIO QUEBEC NEW BRUNSWICK NOVA SCOTIA NEWFOUNDLAND P.E.I. 0% 0% 0% 0% % 1% 2.5% 2.5% The student who takes out no student loans pays 16,680 for their degree while the student taking out loans is paying 22,892 for their degree after interest on their loan repayment is accounted for. Those that are able to not receive student loans are paying 27% less for their education than those that must supplement their income through loans. Were the BC provincial government to move in line with most provinces and charge at a prime rate, the 6,212 disparity in education costs between students who do not require loans and those that do would be reduced to 3, If the province moved in line with Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, that disparity would disappear altogether. By charging 2.5% above prime, the province is forcing those who cannot afford post-secondary without loans to pay substantially more for their education than those who are able to complete their degrees without loans. HOW MUCH MORE IT COSTS A STUDENT WHO TAKES OUT A BC STUDENT LOAN TO GET AN EDUCATION THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THAT THE GOVERNMENT REDUCE STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES TO, WITH THE INTENTION OF PHASING OUT INTEREST RATES ALTOGETHER OVER TIME. THIS IS ESTIMATED TO COST THE GOVERNMENT 20 MILLION TO REDUCE TO AND A FURTHER 20 MILLION TO ELIMINATE INTEREST RATES ALTOGETHER. 27% 1. Provincial weighted average tuition taken from 2. https://studentaidbc.ca/plan/debt#repayment Student Aid BC student loan calculator

3 REDUCING THE FINANCIAL BARRIER Upfront, Needs-Based Grants British Columbia is the only province without a needs-based student grant program. Without any compensatory plan or program, the BC government eliminated the modest grant program that did exist in When the federal government established the Canada Student Grant Program for low- and middleincome students in 2008, it left BC as the only jurisdiction in the country without a similar form of student assistance. The upfront cost of education is the most cited barrier from those from lower-incomes not attending post-secondary education this is particularly true about university enrollment. Moreover, those from lower-income families are less likely to be aware of aid that may be available during and after their program. 1 These realities point to the need to provide up-front, needs-based grants at the onset of enrollment to increase accessibility for those who need it the most. Post-program debt relief (such as the BC Loan Reduction Program, which only helps after students have been devastated with debt) does not assist lower- and middle-income students get to post-secondary education in the first place. It also does not lessen the problems associated with the direct correlation between increasing debt levels and lower program completion rates. 2 Last year, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador decided to entirely replace provincial student loans with non-repayable grants. This is a stark comparison with BC, which has no needs-based grants and where students are graduating with the highest levels of debt in the country. NEEDS-BASED GRANTS WERE ELIMINATED BY THE BC GOVERNMENT IN BC IS THE ONLY CANADIAN PROVINCE WITHOUT A STUDENT GRANTS PROGRAM. THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MATCH THE CANADA STUDENT GRANTS FOR LOW- AND MIDDLE-INCOME STUDENTS, AT A COST OF 97 MILLION. 1. Canadian Council in Learning. (2009). Post-secondary education in Canada: Who is missing out? 2. Lori McElroy. (2005). Student Aid and University Persistence: Does Debt Matter?

4 BRINGING THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST TO BRITISH COLUMBIA Creating a BC Graduate Scholarship Program Graduate students serve three crucial roles in the university structure: acting as researchers, teachers, and learners. First-rate graduate students lead cutting-edge research initiatives, provide excellent learning experiences for undergraduates, and form the basis of a highly-skilled workforce. Competition for top students is an increasingly global affair and BC needs a strategy to ensure it is the destination of choice for talented individuals. The Alliance of BC Students believes the best way to do this is through the creation of a BC Graduate Scholarship program. A BC Graduate Scholarship program is an investment that will grow the economy. Not only will it ensure BC has an adequate supply of skilled workers needed to grow new and emerging industries, it also enhances established industries such as the natural resources sector, which benefit from researchdriven innovations that improve efficiency, productivity and sustainability. The current inadequate funding, combined with a high cost of living in BC, creates a significant obstacle for potential and current graduate students to overcome. As a result, students choose to study and settle elsewhere. Other Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, have already recognized the benefits of recruiting top graduate students and currently offer provincial graduate scholarship programs. Students and universities in BC 1, as well as the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services 2, all agree that a similar program should be created in British Columbia. It s time to put that program in place to attract the brightest minds to BC. PROVINCIAL PHD SCHOLARSHIPS BRITISH COLUMBIA - O ALBERTA - 3,000 MANITOBA - 18,000 ONTARIO - 15,000 QUEBEC - 20,000 BC AB MB ON QC NS NOVA SCOTIA - 15,000 THE ALLIANCE OF BC STUDENTS RECOMMENDS CREATING A BC GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM. 1. Opportunity Agenda for BC. Research Universities Council of BC. 2. Report on the 2015 Budget Consultations. Accesssed online at:

5 BUILDING COMPLETE AND SUSTAINABLE CAMPUSES Adding New Student Residence Spaces Student residence forms an integral part of the university experience for students all across the province. Living on campus means that more time can be spent studying instead of commuting. It also provides students with more opportunities to make friends and participate in all aspects of campus life. Demand for student residence in BC is strong and over 10,000 students each year end up unable to secure suitable campus housing because there is an insufficient supply of residence spaces. Post-secondary institutions in BC do not receive government funding to build student residences and are expected to independently fund the construction and operation of these buildings. Institutions are ready and willing to take on that challenge, but need access to debt (which will be fully serviced through the collection of residence fees) in order to pay for the upfront costs of building a new residence. The provincial government has needlessly restricted institutions ability to access these capital funds, leading to the use of convoluted internal loan schemes which increase costs and limit capacity. The government should re-examine the policies that are preventing institutions from accessing the funds needed to build new student residences. Changing these policies incur no cost to the government. It requires only the removal of bureaucratic red tape which is severely restricting the ability of students to live on campus. NO VACANCY 2014 /2015: STUDENTS UNABLE TO SECURE ON-CAMPUS HOUSING DUE TO LACK OF AVAILABILITY UBC: 5200 SFU: 3000 UVIC: 2700 THE ALLIANCE OF BC STUDENTS RECOMMENDS ALLOWING BC S POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS TO EASILY OBTAIN CAPITAL FUNDING FOR THE PURPOSES OF BUILDING NEW STUDENT RESIDENCES. THIS WOULD INCUR NO COST TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT.

6 CREATING A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IN STUDENT HOUSING Creating a New Act in British Columbia to Regulate Post-Secondary Housing for Students Institutionally managed student housing is currently not regulated by provincial law. The Residential Tenancy Act does not apply to living accommodation owned or operated by an educational institution and provided by that institution to its students or employees. 1 The absence of regulation means that universities are free to increase rent by any amount, even when institutions make no improvements to the residence. Recently, a number of post-secondary institutions have proposed significant increases to housing costs. Just as renters must have some degree of cost certainty from year to year; when planning finances for a multi-year degree program, students should have a reasonable degree of cost certainty for student housing. We believe that, similar to the Tenancy Act, residence housing cost increases should be capped at or near to the rate of inflation. In addition to price increases, institutionally provided residence spaces are not subject to the requirements of the Act with respect to building maintenance and there is no impartial organization empowered to resolve disputes between the landlord (the institution) and tenants. This means that students have no recourse against their institutions, unless they can demonstrate that another law or regulation has been broken, a step that only a small number can afford UBC IS PROPOSING HOUSING COST INCREASES OF 20% OR BETWEEN PER YEAR. MANDATORY MEAL PLANS WILL ALSO INCREASE BY UVIC HAS PROPOSED A 13% INCREASE IN HOUSING FEES FOR , WHICH AMOUNTS TO 416 A YEAR FOR A DOUBLE ROOM AND 544 FOR A SINGLE ROOM. RENT WILL THEN INCREASE 6% ANNUALLY IN AND 2017/18 AND THEN 4% IN EACH OF THE NEXT SIX YEARS. THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THAT THE GOVERNMENT ENACT LEGISLATION REGULATING POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTION PROVIDED HOUSING BASED ON THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCY ACT, ENSURING COST CERTAINTY FOR THE DURATION OF THEIR DEGREE AND BASIC MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS Facts about the housing fee increase, UBC website (accessed January 30, 2015).

7 KEEP BASIC EDUCATION FREE Adult Basic Education Public education from K-12 is a basic right and is free in every province in Canada. This is widely understood as the bare minimum for establishing basic foundations for a healthy and vibrant economy and society. In BC, Adult Basic Education (ABE) has long been provided at no charge for those returning to complete high school classes later in life. ABE programs are meant to advance the education and employment potential of marginalized groups and individuals seeking to improve their lives; as such, Indigenous people, immigrants, women, adults with disabilities, and single parents disproportionately use and benefit from these programs. 64% WOMEN 36% MEN In 2002, the BC government initially allowed for institutions to charge tuition fees for ABE, but quickly found this policy to be counter productive. The BC government s 2005 ABE outcomes survey conducted while ABE tuition charges were in place found that the second most cited reason for those who wanted to pursue ABE, but were not currently doing so, was a lack of financial resources. According to the 2007 Budget, the BC government considered 36% of adults to have low levels of literacy in English. In order to address part of the problem, the government established the Adult Opportunities Action Plan that year, which included free adult literacy and some ESL as part of ABE. Finally, the 2007 BC government s Campus 2020 Report declared the public interest in eliminating barriers to participation in post-secondary education requires that no tuition be charged to any adult learner seeking to upgrade their education by completing high school courses. The decision to reverse course and remove tuition fees for ABE in 2007 was well grounded and had considerable positive impact to British Columbians and the province as a whole. Unfortunately, the BC government announced late in 2014 that institutions could once again begin charging tuition fees for ABE including English as Second Language (ESL) programs. 12% ABORIGINAL 12% LONG TERM DISABILITY 23% ENGLISH IS NOT FIRST LANGUAGE 72% STUDENTS ARE BELOW POVERTY LINE THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THE GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVIDE ADULT BASIC EDUCATION (ABE) AND ENGLISH AS SECOND LANGUAGE (ESL) AT NO CHARGE TO STUDENTS, AT A COST OF 7.5 MILLION.

8 SUPPORT FOR TRADES Ensuring Trades Programs are Adequately Funded The current funding model for trades from the Ministry of Advanced Education does not cover necessary materials costs like lumber or sheet metal. The cost of raw materials can add an extra burden, especially for pre-apprenticeship programs. These costs range from 25 to 230 per student beyond their tuition, books, and other fees. As an example, a level C foundation welder can expect to pay an additional 230 for materials costs alone. Unlike textbooks, which a student may keep as a reference for many years, these materials are used up in the process of the course, serving as necessary learning aids in the same manner as a skill saw or hammer. Some institutions have decided to internalize these costs, placing an even further burden on strained institutional budgets, while others download these costs to students, creating an unforeseen financial burden on already tight student finances. 230 THE EXTRA CHARGE TO A LEVEL C WELDER FOR MATERIALS Materials acquisition is frequently done in an ad hoc manner, relying on individual instructors to source their materials. This takes away from instructor preparatory time to focus instead on seeking out additional resources on tight budgetary leashes. Given the crucial role of trades to the economic growth of the province, it is important to reduce barriers to trades programs. THE ABCS RECOMMENDS THE MINISTRY CONDUCT A STUDY TO DETERMINE THE TOTAL COSTS OF MATERIALS IN TRADES AND EXPLORE WAYS OF ALTERING THE FUNDING MODEL TO INCLUDE THOSE COSTS.

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