It Worked! Many Permanently Disabled Students Did Win Loan Forgiveness
Followers of this website may remember our 'Countdown Campaign' in July, 2009.
Key government student loan aid programs were quietly being cancelled. We tried to alert as many as we could reach -- so they could apply for help while there was still time.
Application forms, rules, fax numbers and advice were supplied on this site for each program about to be cancelled, so that people could apply with short notice.
One of those cancelled government programs was BC's former Permanent Disability Benefits (PDP) Program.
It was unique in helping even those who had lost their good standing (and therefore would not normally be eligible for aid). It was also remarkable in completely forgiving people's entire BC student loan amount through one application. The only requirement was either federal or BC proof of permanent disability status and a low income.
Sadly, mainstream media organizations misreported the program as 'already closed,' which discouraged eligible and needly people from applying.
As we confirmed, StudentAid BC call centre staff were telling disabled people it was too late to apply. Adding to the confusion, the BC government took down its online application form before the program ended.
Given the special value of this program, Debt 101 set up complete application packages on this site. We sent urgent messages to contact disabilities organizations throughout BC, trying to get them to alert their clients. Some did not respond, which is too bad. We also sent urgent messages to media, although most did not respond.
But did our little campaign help? Apparently so!
Aside from the organizations that asked our help with client applications, we've just learned that that a surprising number of applications went in considering that the mainstream media, call centres and BC government were all telling people not to bother applying.
While unwilling to give numbers, one Ministry official said that "really quite a lot" of PDP applications got faxed in by the deadline.
Due to the BC government and media misinformation, those who got their applications in on time were given a further 30 days to obtain supporting documents.
The PDP program - which forgave all BC student loan debt for low-income people with a permanent disability - ended August 1, 2009. Final day to apply was July 31. BC officials say no replacement is planned.
Canada Student Loans still has programs to assist those with Permanent Disabilities. However, unlike the cancelled BC program, these are not available to people whose student loans are in defaulted status and involve collection agencies.
We're very sorry that this helpful program was cancelled. But it's good to know that we were able to get some people this help before it ran out.
Special thanks to the following media and student organizations that helped spread the word by alerting the public in time:
SFU's SJSF Radio
Langara Students' Union
Ubyssey (UBC newspaper)
The Tyee (online BC news)
The Georgia Straight.
© Jeannine Mitchell 2010 - 2013