On April 9, 2019, the New Brunswick government made several changes to Student Financial Aid. Although these new limits came under the rouse of a positive change, as it now allows more students to be eligible, the changes were unfair for many who previously qualified for free tuition.
The Conservative government cut the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for Middle Class, as well as eliminating the Timely Completion Benefit. They also reintroduced the Tuition Tax Credit and introduced the Renewed Tuition Bursary.
These changes give less money to more students, including those attending private colleges like Atlantica. Atlantica closed up shop, abandoning students, last May.
The changes place a limit on the amount that is given through the Renewed Tuition Bursary program. This new amount is significantly less than the cost of tuition for universities and colleges in New Brunswick. This has impacted thousands of students, especially vulnerable, low income, and marginalised students.
This change came slightly before UNB raised their tuition costs for full-time students, while also changing the definition of a part-time student. This caused many students to reconsider if they could afford to attend post-secondary.
Brady Rimes, a third year B.A. and B.Ed. student, found the change in funding distressing.
“It really impacted me. Last year I received $3,225. As a full-time university student taking six courses it is extremely difficult, with the cost of living it, to come up with that money. If I were not in my third year of university, I would not have attended this year.” said Rimes.
New Brunswick students have the highest level of debt in Canada. Eliminating these programs with no other plans in place is concerning.
For those affected by the recent changes to financial aid, the New Brunswick Student Alliance is holding an event on September 26 to tell the Higgs government #DontCutOurFuture.
Those participating will be mobilizing at MLA Trevor Holder’s office at noon on this day. Stay tuned on @UNBSRC, @UNBSU or the NBSA website for more information!