This week, thousands of post-secondary students signing up for an Ontario student loan in Ottawa will join more than a quarter million others who collectively owe the province close to $1 billion.

As of March 31, 2008, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities counted 308,293 people repaying loans to OSAP.

In 2006, the combined debt owed to the province was estimated at around $1.7 billion. The MCTU is reporting the total debt for Ontario students was down to $890 million as of March 2008.

However, Katherine Giroux-Bougard, chair of the Canadian Federation of Students based in Ottawa, said there is growing trend towards students relying on borrowed money to pay their way through school.

The CFS estimates total debt from students nationally to the feds is more than $13 billion.

“That has negative repercussions both for students who are attending post-secondary education and after they attend,” said Giroux-Bougard.

“Research shows that the more debt a student has, the less likely they are to actually finish their degree.”

During the school-year ending 2008, students attending the University of Ottawa borrowed $58.2 million from the Ontario Student Loan and Canada Student Loan program. Students at Carleton University borrowed $40.2 million and students at Algonquin College borrowed $33.4 million.