The Federal government released its budget earlier this week and includes $17 million in new spending for students.
The improvements are generally supported by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and the Students Representative Council (SRC) of UNB Saint John.
In a press release issued by national student advocacy organization, CASA says the changes will enhance access to financial assistance as well as improve the employment situation for youth.
“This government understands the need to make post-secondary education more affordable and support students through experiential learning opportunities”, says Viviane Bartlett, interim executive director of CASA.
Emily Fox, vice president external at the SRC, echoes these comments, adding.
“We are glad that the liberal government followed through with their promise to increase spending for experiential learning.”
In addition to increased spending on experiential learning the budget also contained an increase to the federal grant program for low and middle income students which is administered through the Canada Student Loan Program (CSLP).
“The biggest thing for Saint John students is the increase by 50% to the student grant program, it’s something that we advocated for…it was one of our top priorities.” Says Fox, who was in Ottawa in February, working with CASA and lobbying the new liberal government for these changes.
Fox continues saying, “they followed through with a lot of their promises to students, including raising the annual floor on the Canada Student Loans repayment assistance program from $20,000 to $25,000.”
This means that graduates will not have to begin paying back their student loans until they start making more than $25,000 per year.
When asked about what was missing Fox brings up issues around insufficient needs based assistance for graduate students, as well as a desire to see the annual floor for CSLP repayment be raised even further to $30,000.
Despite the budget not being everything promised during the campaign Bartlett has an optimistic tone.
“This budget sends an important signal to young Canadians and a sincere desire to make post-secondary education a federal priority.”