TORONTO, Jan. 14, 2014 /CNW/ - The provincial government's announcement of an interest-free period extension on Ontario student loans for those who volunteer for the upcoming Pan/Parapan American Games will do little to address record-high student debt levels in the province, students say.
"Ontario's college and university students who take on public and private loans to finance their education are graduating with an average of $37,000 of debt to repay," said Alastair Woods, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Rather than address this crisis directly, the Ontario government prefers to offer piecemeal relief to a small segment of the population."
Under the new program, students who volunteer for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games to be held in Toronto will be eligible to receive an interest-free period extension of six months on Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) loans beyond the six-month period offered to all graduating students. Current students who forgo working in the summer to volunteer will not be penalized by OSAP.
This follows a trend by the Ontario government that has seen interest-relief and other financial assistance offered to students under a specific set of circumstances. A similar program extends the interest-free period for an additional six months to students who own or co-own a registered business in the province.
"Students across this province are struggling to make ends meet under the mounting financial pressures of attending college or university," said Woods. "The government must immediately develop a strategy to alleviate student debt across the province that does not have fine print or strings attached. Students deserve proper debt relief."
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's largest student organization, representing more than 300,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.
SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario