Volume 95, Issue 11

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
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Londoners rally for peace

Games hit too close to home

USC loyalty causes confusion

OUSA puts student face to student debt

News Briefs

OUSA puts student face to student debt

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

The Ontario Undergraduate Students Alliance recently kicked-off their fall campaign, "Back to School, Back to Debt," in hopes of relieving student debt.

"We want to promote education for qualified students, not just for those who can afford it," said Erin McCloskey, VP-education for the University Students' Council and president of OUSA – the provincial lobby group for Western students.

Many Western students rely on an outdated and underfunded financial aid system, and OUSA is trying to draw public attention to the growing problem of student debt among university students, McCloskey said.

The campaign was launched with a press conference at Queen's Park on Sept. 10 and will end in the beginning of November with a lobby conference. Sixty per cent of the MPPs are expected to attend, she added.

As part of the campaign, Western provided profiles of current students and recent graduates currently facing a high debt load.

"The campaign is meant to give a personal face to the debt," said Jon Santos, a Western alumnus who finished his degree this past year with a $35,000 debt.

Similarly, Josh Morgan, a Western student completing his fourth year in economics and political science has accumulated a debt load of $26,398. Morgan says he feels this is the average amount of debt a university student carries by the end of a four-year degree.

"I hope that the total of student debt doesn't keep students away from going to university," Santos said.

Dave Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, does not echo such concerns, maintaining there is accessibility for students of all backgrounds.

"The number of students asking for loans is down and participation rates in universities are up," he said.

Ross said if students are in need, "there are a lot of programs available to help relieve debt, like summer employment opportunities and bursaries."

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Copyright The Gazette 2001