Volume 93, Issue 66

Thursday, January 27, 2000


Heaton drops from USC prez race

Default rate shows decline

Failed talks spart protest at U of T

Study reveals new HIV concerns

MP has his Day on campus

Braun to introduce "beef boards"

Brebner takes logical approach



Caught on campus

Default rate shows decline

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

It seems that students are not as irresponsible as some may believe when it comes to paying back student loans.

Dianne Cunningham, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said contrary to stories published in newspapers across Canada this week, the default rate for student loans has dropped from 12.3 to 8.4 per cent over the past few years.

"I have to give credit to students here," she said. "University students have been extremely responsible. We're looking at less than 10 per cent and it's going down.

"We set up a goal [in 1998] to reduce overall [Ontario Student Assistance Program] default rates to no more than 10 per cent by 2003," Cunningham said. She added the default rate for college students is still at 20.1 per cent and 31 per cent for private vocational school students.

Cunningham explained initiatives were established to achieve the goal which included requiring institutions to provide students with information about OSAP default rates, program graduation rates and employment rates.

"The first initiative was to encourage students, by way of good information, to make informed choices about the courses they take and about where they go to school," Cunningham said. She added the Ministry is currently talking to Grade 9 and 10 students across the province.

Jeff Keay, a Royal Bank spokesperson, said rumours of a $100 million student loan subsidy from the government were erroneous, as more students pay back loans than people think. "On average there is a higher percentage of defaults on all other types of loans," he said.

Canadian Alliance of Student Associations communications officer Kieran Green, said the number of students defaulting on student loan payments are constantly exaggerated, because missing a payment date by even one day constitutes default. "The banks are exaggerating. The number of students on default is highly inflated."

Green said he thought one solution to the problem would be lowering loan payment interest rates.

Cunningham, who said she was proud of students because of the lowered rate, admitted Ontario was considering recovering student loan payments by way of seizing income tax refunds.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000