Students celebrate budget initiatives at Grenfell

Diane
Diane Crocker
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The Canadian Federation of Students held a celebration Friday at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook.

Although it was the last day of classes, the celebration was about much more — the elimination of the provincial student loans program and the continuation of the tuition freeze at Memorial University.

The province announced in its 2014 budget that it plans to phase out the student loans program and reintroduce a grant program in its place.

Matt Brockel is the provincial campaigns co-ordinator with the federation. He said the grant program was eliminated about 20 years ago, and it’s something the federation has been fighting for ever since.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic and we applaud the efforts of the provincial government in putting this in the recent budget,” said Brockel.

Brockel said, on average, students in this province graduate with $20,000 in debt and the elimination of student loans will bring that down to around $14,000.

“That’s going to make a huge difference,” he said. “It roughly eliminates 40 per cent of the debt load of students graduating from post-secondary institutions, and this will allow students to actively participate in the economy once they graduate.”

Brockel said the continued tuition freeze is also a good measure and the two initiatives will help to attract more students from outside the province.

“Currently, Newfoundland and Labrador has the most accessible post-secondary institutions and, as you’ve seen, this has caused a major draw of students to come to Memorial.”

Since the freeze was first implemented, Brockel said there has been a 1,100 per cent increase in the number of Nova Scotians coming to Memorial.

That included students like Nick Mercer, who came to Grenfell from Halifax.

“I can live here, work here, study here, all for less than the cost of tuition in Nova Scotia,” he said. “So it’s a pretty easy choice.”

Mercer said the lower tuition helps to reduce the amount of debt he’ll have when he graduates.

Grenfell Campus Student Union president Chelsea Noel and Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley were on hand to speak at Friday’s celebration.

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Students, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Campus Student Union

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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  • Mary
    April 05, 2014 - 14:42

    Very happy for you but what about my child who graduated with a 30,000.00 debt after receiving her undergraduate degree and now under a repayment schedule for provincial loans. I say again what about the students out there whom have not benefited from the cancelation of provincial loans and under pressure from provincial government to repay. Why were they not included in this change? I guess current and future students can be happy this burden was lifted however please jeep in mind that their are many not covered by this budget inniative. Where is their button? Who speaks for them?