NEW! Q & A on Saskatchewan's Student Loan Aid
by Rodney Noriega
Source for this Q + A:
Tammy Bloor Cavers is Executive Director with the Student Financial Assistance Branch of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration.
SASKATCHEWAN'S STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES:
Student Finance 101: What interest rate is charged for the Saskatchewan part of student loans?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Effective August 1, 2010 interest rates will be reduced for all Saskatchewan students in repayment.
Students who have elected the variable rate will pay the Prime rate (reduced from Prime plus 2.5%). Those who have elected the fixed rate will pay Prime plus 2.5% (down from Prime plus 5%).
REPAYMENT ASSISTANCE PLAN (RAP) IN SASKATCHEWAN
Student Finance 101: Does Saskatchewan offer RAP for the provincial part of its integrated student loans?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) administers the Repayment Assistance Plan for borrowers with Canada-Saskatchewan Integrated Student Loans or a combination of Canada-Saskatchewan Integrated Student Loans and Lender-financed Loans. Application is to be made to the NSLSC.
In determining eligibility, the NSLSC will consider all of an applicant’s student loans. If the borrower has federal or provincial lender financed loans, the service centre will notify the borrower’s lender regarding whether or not the borrower qualifies and what the borrower’s affordable payment is on borrower’s lender-financed loans.
Also, since Saskatchewan has RAP for the provincial part, where can students see the rules? Or are they the same as the federal rules (which are listed to some extent on the CanLearn website)?
Saskatchewan uses the same rules for RAP as the Government of Canada.
INTEREST RELIEF AND DEBT REDUCTION
Student Finance 101: Since Saskatchewan offers RAP on the provincial part of its integrated student loans, does that mean Saskatchewan has closed the Interest Relief and/or Debt Reduction (DRR) programs, like the federal government did?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: The Interest Relief, Extended Interest Relief and Debt Reduction in Repayment programs are only available to students who are repaying Lender-financed or Saskatchewan Student Loans (any loans issued prior to 2001).
Students who have been issued both a Lender-financed Saskatchewan Student Loan and a Canada-Saskatchewan Integrated Student Loan are eligible for RAP.
LOAN REPAYMENT PERIOD
Student Finance 101: Does Saskatchewan still allow Revision of Terms (extending your loan repayment over a longer time to cut the monthly payment size)?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Yes.
Student Finance 101: Also, what is the maximum time to pay now? Is it the old “Extended Term” of 15 years (which after that 6-month grace period after school, works out to 14.5 years of payments, or 174 months?)
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Yes, that is correct.
Student Finance 101: We believe that Saskatchewan also allows "Deferment of Principal" - also known as “Interest-Only Payments” for those who do not qualify for RAP. However, we wondered about the frequency allowed.
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Interest-only payments are allowed through the application for Revision of Terms for up to 12 months.
Student Finance 101: This is allowed in BC for a 6-month period once every year if you are too broke to make the standard payment. But some provinces only allow it once in the lifetime of the loan. How about Saskatchewan?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Allowed once in the lifetime of the loan.
DEBT-REDUCTION PROGRAMS IN SASKATCHEWAN
Student Finance 101: Does Saskatchewan have a Timely Completion program (where your student loan debt is reduced if you graduate quickly)? Or does it have some other debt-reduction program during study - or when it ends?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Saskatchewan has a number of programs that reduce student debt at the end of studies. The Saskatchewan Student Bursary provides up to $140 per week in debt reduction for high need students.
The Saskatchewan Student Bursary is automatically applied to Saskatchewan Student Loan debt at the end of each period of study.
Saskatchewan has also introduced Grants for low and middle income students and low income students with dependents between the ages of 12 and 18. These grants are also provided in the form of debt reduction benefits.
The table below provides a few examples of the levels of federal and provincial assistance Saskatchewan students receive - and the amount that is repayable (as of August 1, 2010).
Maximum Weekly Assistance
Low-Income Student: $408
Middle-Income Student: $408
Above-Middle Income: $408
Low-Income Student with 1 Child $455
Maximum Weekly Repayable
Low-Income Student: $210
Middle-Income Student: $233
Above-Middle Income: $268
Low-Income Student with 1 Child $210
Student Finance 101: Do these debt-reduction programs also apply for Master's or Doctoral degrees? Or are they only for undergrad degrees?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Master’s and Doctoral students are eligible for the Saskatchewan Student Grants, but are not eligible for the Saskatchewan Student Bursary.
OTHER SASKATCHEWAN STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT AID PROGRAMS
Student Finance 101: Are there any other programs in Saskatchewan to help people with repayment, such as a Tuition Rebate program?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: The Graduate Retention Program (GRP) rebates students up to $20,000 of tuition paid by eligible graduates who remain or move to Saskatchewan and file a Saskatchewan income tax return. For more information refer to http://www.aeel.gov.sk.ca/grp.
Student Finance 101: We know you have a Permanent Disability program, as well as that tax break to help people pay off student loans (GRP). Please tell us about any other program we haven’t mentioned here.
Tammy Bloor Cavers: You have captured all of the programs available for Saskatchewan students.
Student Finance 101: Does the tax break (GRP) apply to any type of degree? Or is it only for undergraduate degrees and vocational/trades programs?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: The Graduate Retention Program (GRP) is applicable to students graduating with a certificate, diploma, undergraduate degree or a journeypersons certification.
HOW TO GET MORE INFORMATION
Student Finance 101: Saskatchewan has an up-to-date listing of forms and publications on its website. However, could you advise of any page urls(s) that best provide details of additional student loan repayment aid programs not covered above?
Tammy Bloor Cavers: Information about repayment can be accessed from our home page: www.student-loans.sk.ca
Student Finance 101 thanks Tammy Bloor Cavers for her assistance here in explaining Saskatchewan's student loan aid and repayment programs.