Volume 92, Issue 56

Thursday, January, 1999

in the books


Talks to change student loans begin

Professor killed in car accident

Directories finally find their way to campus

High schools take notes

Campus parking cost on the rise


Caught on campus

Talks to change student loans begin

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

The Ontario Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance met for the first time on Dec. 17 to give the provincial government advice on improving student assistance.

The committee, formed Nov. 5, 1998 by the province, was established as a way to collect advice from a number of stakeholders on ways to improve the way financial assistance is given to students. Those stakeholders include a number of provincial student lobby groups, financial institutions as well as several other lobby groups.

At the request of the provincial government, the first order of business for the committee was to discuss how Ontario should deal with the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, said Andrew Boggs, executive director for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. He added the meeting went better than he expected.

"There wasn't cause for concern between student groups within the committee," Boggs said, referring to the concern raised upon the initial formation of the committee.

Joel Harden, Ontario chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, said the committee has been set up in a consultative way. "We've come into this meeting with our own agenda," he said.

CFS-O is opposed to the income contingent loan repayment program which will likely be one of the issues discussed by the committee in future meetings. "We are opposed to ICLRP but that doesn't mean we are not willing to debate the issue," Harden said.

Cynthia Hilliard, executive director of the Ontario Community College Student Parliamentary Association, said the meeting laid the groundwork for future meetings.

Hilliard said she was encouraged by the way the government is dealing with the committee. "They are identifying their priorities and giving us their time lines for those priorities," she said, adding this is not normally done.

"I don't know if the students know the significance of this group," she said.

Sean Kerby, spokesperson for Royal Bank of Canada, said he understands the meeting went quite well. "What we want is to see the student loan program improve to meet the needs of the student."

One of the issues Royal Bank wants to discuss is the harmonization of the student loan program, Kerby said. Harmonizing the provincial student loan program with the federal student loan program will make it easier and less confusing for both the students and the banks, he explained.

"They have every intention on taking the advice," Boggs said.

Although the future of the committee is secure, Boggs said they are not sure what the committee will be discussing following the next provincial election anticipated within the next year. "Exactly what is being discussed will depend on the next government."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999