Nova Scotia has finally lived down its status as one of three provinces without a system of needs-based grants, student groups say.
The government announced in yesterday’s budget a new grant program that shaves the first 20 per cent off provincial student loans starting this September.
Students will save $775 a year on average up to a maximum of $1,560. Single parents are eligible to receive up to $1,040 more.
Student groups applauded the move, saying it finally addresses what they’ve been calling for.
“(It’s) really going to help the average student,” said Kaley Kennedy, Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia representative and University of Kings College student.
However, the grants program means the end of another program for university students. An $8-million program to help students reduce their loans after graduation will be replaced by the upfront grants program.
The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations is pleased the government addressed the No. 1 issue that came up in a recent provincial student aid review, but likened the move to robbing Peter to pay Paul. “We’re not a system that has a lot to trim,” Paris Meilleur said.
Education Minister Karen Casey said the post-graduation reduction grant didn’t get enough uptake. About 3,000 students were accessing the post-graduation grant. The 9,000 students who borrow education money from the province will automatically benefit from the new program.
NDP education critic Leonard Preyra said it’s not a true system of needs-based grants, saying students still have to pay high tuition fees and take out a loan to access it. He said the program should focus more on students most in need, similar to the Canadian Millenium Scholarship Foundation, and tied to merit.