CALGARY – Post-secondary education in Alberta needs a dramatic overhaul, according to the Green Party of Alberta. Ever-increasing tuition rates are further reducing accessibility to post-secondary education. Both the federal and provincial governments exacerbate the suffering of low-income students and their families with rising interest rates, creating student loan bondage.
“With the start of the new term we can take a fresh look at important challenges facing our post-secondary system, especially for students,” says Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, Leader of the Green Party of Alberta. New Alberta regulations limit tuition increases to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) with a maximum permissible increase of 10% for domestic tuition. Since 2001, the amount of revenue universities and colleges earn from tuition fees has tripled, and these costs are increasingly downloaded onto students. “While we applaud the measure of predictability concerning tuition fees that starts in February, it does not change the fact that tuition fees are user fees, making life harder and stressful for students. Let’s strive to reduce, or better yet – eliminate – the burden of tuition costs and interest fees.”
According to the Canadian Federation of Students, the average student who can’t pay tuition up front carries $10,000 more debt than those who can. This creates barriers to post-secondary education access, and completion, for students from low-income situations, including Indigenous students and students of colour, trans/LGBTQ2S students, students with disabilities, and those from single-parent households. The federal government uses interest rates on student loans as a bankable source of revenue, expected to generate $862.6 million in revenue from the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP). They are making money off those who can least afford it, and Canadian students currently owe $28 billion to the government. The elimination of tuition fees would fix this. To start, we could replace provincial student loans with non-repayable student grants and reduce tuition fees.
The Green Party of Alberta believes tuition fee reduction/elimination and reform to student loans is important to students, youth, families and communities who value education. “These students are our future, our leaders, our decision-makers,” says Chagnon-Greyeyes, who is her party’s Nominated Candidate in the riding of Calgary-Varsity. “Let’s support them as they work so hard to succeed, not burden them with debt and worry.”