Stats on student loans outdated but still prove significant
By Stephanie Cesca
Students are having difficulties repaying their federal and provincial loans, according to a report released yesterday by Statistics Canada.
Warren Clark, an analyst on Canadian social trends for Statistics Canada, explained the study looked at the 1995 class of university and college graduates. Approximately 43,000 respondents participated in this survey.
The survey, which concentrated on government student loans, found a difference in the borrowing rates between students graduating after 1992 and 1995, Clark said. "Graduates [in 1995] are borrowing about 130 to 140 per cent more than 1992 graduates did."
Clark attributed this increase to the rise in tuition rates. "The problem is family income. Since 1980 it has only gone up one per cent. Tuition, however, has gone up 115 per cent."
Although these figures seem disconcerting, today's figures are even worse, said Andrew Boggs, executive director for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. "It's a fair report but the numbers are old," he explained.
"Since 1995, tuition has increased 60 per cent in regulated programs and in deregulated programs, it's increased more than 100 per cent."
Boggs added the report only represented students who have graduated with first-entry bachelor degrees, which means students seeking assistance for professional or secondary degrees were not represented in the study.
"There's been numbers being thrown out, but nobody really knows the average student debt," said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council.
In an attempt to remedy this problem, Iozzo explained how member schools of the Canadian Alliance Student Associations are conducting a survey across Canada, in order to assess accurate numbers.
"We're hoping to get a cross-section of over 300,000 students," he said. "The results will be out by late February or early March."
While Daniele Gauvin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, has not had a chance to examine the survey's findings, she explained how the government is working harder to help students repay their loans. "There are new student support systems in Ontario."
Gauvin explained the government will match any amount of money colleges and universities raise for student bursaries.
Christina Lederman, manager of financial aid services at Western, said Western does provide services to Western graduates having trouble repaying their loans.