Accessibility of higher education jeopardized by poor financial aid literacy

TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - Undergraduate students across Canada are shockingly ill-equipped and uninformed when it comes to navigating our financial aid system, says a report released today by a partnership of student alliances from across Canada. The report, entitled "The Illiteracy of the Literate: The Lack of Financial Aid Knowledge among Canadian University Students," is based on a survey of over 20,000 students, half of them from Ontario, and examines the financial aid literacy of borrowers and non-borrowers alike.

Results indicate that 75% of students, including 54% of upper-year government loan recipients, failed the financial aid literacy test posed in the survey. Students most often cited parents and friends as their primary source of financial aid information, yet these students also had the lowest test scores.

"It is clear that thousands of Ontario students are unaware of the aid that is available and are unprepared to handle the significant debt they incur," said Meaghan Coker, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). "Our overcomplicated financial aid system is failing these students."

The report also describes a number of the consequences that stem from poor financial aid literacy. Roughly one in five students who identified as debt-averse were unaware that it was possible to receive a grant without taking out a loan. Of fifth-year students who thought they would not quality for a loan, 71% were unaware that their parental income would not be taken into account. Furthermore, 57% of government loan recipients risk paying hundreds of dollars in additional interest because they did not know that interest on their Canada Student Loan begins to accrue immediately upon graduation.

"We urge the government to incorporate comprehensive financial aid literacy into the high school curriculum to educate students on the financial aid available to them," said Alexi White, OUSA Executive Director. "No student should graduate from an Ontario high school without a firm understanding of the support available in pursuing higher education."

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).

A copy of the report can be accessed at

OUSA 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:

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