Survey shows students struggling with high debt

TORONTO, April 29 /CNW/ - Undergraduate students in Canada are deeply concerned about their ability to pay back their student debt, says a report released today by a partnership of student alliances from across Canada. The "Canadian Student Survey: Upper-Year Canadian PSE Students Future Plans and Debt" examines how students feel about their job prospects and debt levels, as well as how this debt will impact their future.

The report, based on a survey of over 21,000 students, half of them from Ontario, shows that over half of upper-year students with debt are concerned with their ability to pay it back. In addition, one-third of students reported turning to private loans to finance their education, causing them to pay higher interest rates while enjoying none of the repayment assistance available for government loans.

The report also examines how those students from families with the lowest levels of parental education were more likely to have accumulated debt and to have higher total median debt.

"There's no doubt that students from families with lower levels of parental education are being hit the hardest," said Dan Moulton, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. "While the provincial and federal governments have done much to improve financial assistance, significant challenges remain."

The Repayment Assistance Plan, recently adopted by the provincial and federal governments, will do much to support students with high government debt. But both levels of government continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on education tax credits that predominately benefit students from high-income backgrounds and do nothing to promote access to education. During the 2007 Ontario election, the Liberal government pledged to eliminate these tax credits and move the money into up-front grants.

"We look forward to seeing the government fulfill its commitment to replace tax credits with up-front grants before the 2011 election," added Moulton. "More government grants are absolutely necessary if we are to reduce students' reliance on costly private loans and ensure a bright future for all."

The Canadian Student Survey was a bilingual, multi-institutional survey conducted on university campuses across the country in the fall term of the 2009-10 academic year. It was commissioned by a partnership of student alliances across the country, including the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA).

The report is the second of three to be released this year, and can be found online at www.ousa.ca.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at seven Ontario institutions.

SOURCE Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact Alvin Tedjo, Director of Communications & Public Relations. Office: (416) 341-9948; Cell: (647) 669-6885; Email: communications@ousa.on.ca

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Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

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