Ontario government asks students to pay off loans with Aeroplan miles

TORONTO, June 17, 2015 /CNW/ - As thousands of students at colleges and universities across the province are set to graduate with five-figure debts, the Ontario government has announced a formal partnership between the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and Higher Ed Points that will allow students to apply accumulated Aeroplan miles against the balance of their student loan.

"Students who must take on loans to finance their education in this province graduate with an average of $27,000 of debt to repay," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "This latest announcement is yet another example of a government that treats Ontario's student debt crisis like an episode of Extreme Couponing - but there is nothing entertaining about the difficult choices today's students and graduates must face to make ends meet."

The Higher Ed Points program claims students can ask family, friends and even employers to transfer Aeroplan miles to them to pay off education-related debts in $250 denominations. The program touts itself as an "innovative" way to finance post-secondary education and reduce student debt, but in an economic climate where even middle-class families face an alarming financial crunch, the largest benefits of Higher Ed Points will be reaped by high-income families who can afford steady consumer spending that earns enough Aeroplan miles to make a noticeable dent in one's student debt.

"Ballooning student debt levels have a significant impact on the financial stability of new graduates entering the labour market, often delaying important life decisions such as opening a business, buying a home or starting a family," said Hoiltett. "If this government was truly dedicated to ensuring higher education is affordable to all Ontarians, they wouldn't turn an entire generation's economic insecurity into a loyalty program that asks them to spend money they don't have."

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario has consistently called for the government to reinvest into public post-secondary education to reduce tuition fees for all students and introduce more needs-based non-repayable grants to student financial assistance programs.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's oldest and largest student organization, representing over 350,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, 416-925-3825 (office) or 289-923-3534 (cell) or chair@cfsontario.ca


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