Debt 101 has a mission
If you're still in school, Debt 101 wants to help you get your education:
- with the least possible debt
- without student loan problems
If you're out of school, Debt 101 wants to help you:
- pay your loans as fast and cheaply as possible
- avoid – or end – the stress of student loan problems
The main role of Debt 101 is to give you practical help so you can still get your education regardless of how much money you have.
Debt 101 also has opinions. Or at least, the publisher does.
Debt 101's mission is practical advice, so you won't see much opinion in the articles or service pages. But since I write much of that content, I'll speak for myself now, so you know my perspective:
There shouldn't be any student debt in Canada – at least, not debt for essentials like tuition and books.
A university or trades education is no longer a "choice" – this is not 1950. Most Canadians now need a diploma, certificate or degree to earn what it takes to raise a family. Young people should not have to endure years of heavy debt to get the education they need to make their living.
Post-secondary education should be free for the same reasons we made high school free in the last century.
'User-pay' arguments ignore the fact that, when students pay tuition fees, they pay for their education twice. They pay yet again when high interest costs are added to the mix – and in that system, the poor pay more for school. Countries with free tuition and education grants get their investment back through a lifetime of taxes on higher earnings. Students also pay back by expanding the economy and improving quality of life for all.
Education is not a purchase one enjoys privately, like a house, a TV or a car. Education enriches the community, the nation and the next generation – and the one after that, and after that.
So Canada will suffer from loading the current generation with crippling student debts.
And this is not just a problem of naturally-rising costs. When I got my first degree, I was able to pay off my low-interest student loan within months. There was only one type of loan and one set of rules. I handled things directly at my local bank branch. It was easy.
I wouldn't have realized how much things had changed if I hadn't gone back for another degree in the 1990s. Not only had costs soared, but student loans now involved an exhausting maze of bureaucracy. I wondered how much students now pay to maintain this swelling bureaucracy of program administrators, call centres, banks and collection agencies. This design is not efficient.
It seems that my generation, which enjoyed low-cost education, is indifferent to the burden being shouldered by the next generation. I find this irrational and unjust.
But that is just my opinion. Opinions won't help students cope with the system they have now. Until their situation changes, they need clear answers and practical advice. That is what Debt 101 is for.
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Start a forum thread or volunteer to help moderate. Post rule manuals or application forms on the site. Share your experience with others, or money movie and calculator links, donations or suggestions. If you feel the site is lacking in some area, feel free to fill that gap.
We invite you to take ownership. Make this help-site work for you.
- Jeannine Mitchell