CASA's student aid solutions
By Sara Marett
It's governmental pre-budget time and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations is ensuring they are part of the action with a new document released yesterday entitled "Real Solutions."
The paper's main objective is to present reform to the current system of student aid. Hoops Harrison, national director for CASA, said the proposal includes suggestions for areas such as a new student loan repayment system, tuition levels, a national work/study program and a National Education Act.
"Everything in the document is realistic and could be implemented," Harrison said.
However, the Canadian Federation of Students, another national lobby group, thinks the document makes recommendations on policies that have already been adopted by the government or previously proposed by CFS. "This paper merely responds to what is currently going on it's nothing new," said Brad Lavinge, chair of CFS.
The paper outlines the CASA Income-Based Remission program a model loan repayment system designed to assist more graduates with targeted relief and eliminate defaults. The CIBR contains a 15-year repayment period with two phases.
Harrison said the system combines the current interest relief program, a system of deferred grants and the income-based repayment alternative.
Ryan Parks, regional director for CASA, said the association chose 15 years for repayment time because students who graduate at age 22 for example, should not still be carrying a debt load by the time they reach age 42.
"We're willing to pay for our education it's the interest we are worried about," Parks said. He added the document also calls for the interest on student loans to be tax deductible.
CASA's National Education Act is a direct result of the Education Party of Canada, Parks added. The Act will ensure quality education by targeting funding specifically for post-secondary education.
Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said this type of document will be given the up-most consideration by Minister Dave Johnson and will also be evaluated by the Ministry's education policy researchers.