Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Admin upset over independent pub plans

McMaster gets some Nortel money

Biz students make good

Credit checks part of loan program

United Way opens up shop at Galleria


Online journals get funding

Buzz Mecca

Credit checks part of loan program

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Students might want to think twice about maxing out their credit cards before applying for a federal student loan, since credit checks have now been implemented into the national program.

As of Sept. 1, applicants 22 years or older were subjected to a credit check if they applied for a federal student loan, said Gino Trifiro, the Canada Student Loans Program's senior advisor for communications.

To be approved, Trifiro said applicants cannot be 90 days overdue on a minimum of three personal loans or credit accounts with a value of $1,000 or more each. He added the check will review the applicant's credit history dating back three years.

Trifiro said he believes the credit checks will decrease the number of students who default on their student loans. "It's just a question of accountability. For example, when a company applies for a loan, the government wants to know if it will be able to repay it," he said.

Trifiro said if the applicant does not qualify for the loan, they will likely qualify the next year since the screening process only checks the previous three years.

Out of the approximately 300,000 applications this year, Trifiro said he expected only 38,000 would be screened for credit history.

Ryan Dunford, government relations co-ordinator for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said he was concerned the new credit checks would prove to be a barrier to college and university access. "We're currently trying to evaluate what the impact of this will be, but we think it's founded on the public perception that a lot of students default on their loans," he said.

Dunford added the checks would serve to further alienate students who needed the loans the most.

According to Trifiro, there is no change in the way the loans are handled. "They're not treated differently. There are criteria in place and if you meet the criteria, you may get a loan," he said.

"When a person is in debt, the worst thing you can do is give that person more debt," he added.

Still, Joel Harden, Ontario chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said he too felt the additional screening process would be more of a hindrance than help. "Students with a difficult credit history are those the SLP was designed to assist," he said.

Christina Lederman, manager of Western's financial aid office, said the brunt of the impact from credit checks came last year, when the screening process was applied to Ontario Student Assistance Program applicants. She said the screening of CSLP students would effect approximately five undergraduate students at Western.

However Lederman said the new process would have a substantial impact on mature students, who have had more time to collect debt. "It will have a negative impact for people who are trying to make a better start," she said.

"From my perspective, I don't see it as a good thing. It's hindering the process of mature students [who] are attempting to better themselves," she said.

Jen Ryner, a second-year social science student and OSAP recipient, said she supported the credit checks. "I think it's a good idea. If you've maxed out all your credit cards, you shouldn't get a loan."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999