Newfoundland Ends Interest on Student Loans!
As of August 1, 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador will strengthen its student-friendly reputation by removing interest charges from provincial student loans.
Media reports on the story seemed to overlook this point: Before the government made this change, the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians Against Student Debt (NLASD) had run an online campaign to end interest charges, which included a petition.
In hindsight, it's instructive to read the comments on their petition. The first comment was: Determination WILL make a difference. But by the end of a long campaign, the commenters question whether there is any point in trying. Yet the change sought by these despairing petitioners did come, some months after their campaign. Kudos to those who kept it going!
In addition to ending interest charges, the goverrnment made other improvements. Monthly grants will be increased for low-income students. They will rise from $70 weekly now to $80 in future, assisting more than 8,000 students. Married students will also have greater access to student loans.
The package of changes were announced last spring and got a big thumbs-up from students. Daniel Smith, the provincial chair of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) said student leaders were “extremely excited” because the changes would “ease the burden of student debt for students of Newfoundland and Labrador”.
The CFS has written about the stark contrast between Newfoundland and BC policies, noting that BC now has the highest interest rates for provincial student loans in Canada. Since this was written, BC strengthened its position as Canada's least education-friendly province by suddenly cancelling a number of student aid programs this summer.
Meanwhile, back in Newfoundland, the happy switch to no-interest student loans will be automatic for the roughly 50,000 people currently paying off Newfoundland and Labrador student loans.
Their monthly payments will stay the same, but their debt will be paid off more quickly - and cheaply - than was scheduled.
Congratulations, Newfoundland and Labrador. One province down now – nine more to go…
© Jeannine Mitchell 2009 - 2012