After Nova Scotia Students Vote with their Feet… the Deal Sweetens

Nova Scotia launched a flurry of initiatives in 2008 to cut costs for post-secondary students.

Announcements have included a three-year tuition freeze, a grant, bursary, increased graduate tax credit and a two-point cut in student loan interest rates.

The changes followed media reports that Nova Scotia had been losing students due to high tuition fees. Years of rising costs have pushed Nova Scotia to the top in terms of tuition fees. The average cost of tuition in Nova Scotia now exceeds $5,800, according to Statistics Canada. Ontario ranks second.

One target destination for emigrating Nova Scotia students has been Memorial University in Newfoundland. Memorial has much lower tuition fees than 'home' schools such as Dalhousie.

Stating a wish to overcome these cost differences, the Nova Scotia government announced the following changes between spring and fall of 2008:

  • Tuition freeze

    No new tuition increases until 2011. Applies to all undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. The goal: Bring Nova Scotia in line with Canada's average provincial tuition fees.

  • Nova Scotia student bursaries

    Until 2010-2011, this applies only to Nova Scotia students studying at Nova Scotia universities. They'll receive a maximum of $761 in 2008-2009, $1,022 in 2009-2010 and $1,283 in 2010-2011.

    Out-of-province and international students will benefit from the tuition freeze but will not receive a bursary (set at $261) until 2010-2011.

  • New built-in grants

    Starting August 1, 2008, all students taking a Nova Scotia student loan will benefit from a built-in grant. Up to an annual maximum of $1,560 month, the first 20% of the loan will be a non-repayable grant.

  • Larger graduate tax credit

    Nova Scotia's Graduate Tax Credit was set at $1,000 for those who graduated from eligible post-secondary programs in 2006 and 2007. For those graduating in 2008 or later, that credit has been doubled to $2,000.

    To claim your tax credit, see

  • Reduced student loan interest rate

    The provincial government has decided to lend directly to students starting August 1,2008.

    Along with this new loan regime has come a two-point cut in interest rates.

    Loans with variable rates have dropped from the prime interest + 2.5 down to prime + .5 percent. Loans with fixed rates will drop from prime + 5 down to prime plus 3 percent.

Learn More on Debt 101:

Research Library: University Tuition Fee Reports (Statistics Canada)

Nova Scotia Student Assistance Office:
Toll-free: 1-800-565-8420 (within Canada)