Ten things you need to know about financial support for post-secondary students in Canada

    MONTREAL, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Financial support for the country's
post-secondary students with financial need has reached $4 billion, the
highest figure ever, according to a report from the Canada Millennium
Scholarship Foundation.
    The report, entitled Ten Things You Need to Know About Financial Support
for Post-Secondary Students in Canada, found that when changes in student loan
and grant policy came into effect in 2005, they resulted in a seven per cent
increase in the amount of need-based aid per recipient - the first significant
real increase in a decade.
    However, despite these very real gains, students actually only made up
the ground that was lost when student aid decreased in the 1990s. It is also
likely that recent aid increases are simply enabling students to keep pace
with rising costs.
    The report is based on two studies: an analysis of federal and provincial
government spending on student financial support; and a survey of
post-secondary institutions conducted by the Foundation in partnership with
the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.
    In 2006-07, the average Canadian student aid recipient received $8,576 in
loans and grants from federal and provincial governments and the Canada
Millennium Scholarship Foundation. This is $1,000 more (or over $500 more in
real terms) than the amount received by students who studied at the beginning
of the decade.
    Students now receive a better quality of aid because more of it comes as
non-repayable grants and less as loans. In 2006-07, 30 per cent of need-based
student aid was provided as non-repayable grants or loan remission - double
the figure of 15 years ago. This important shift is explained by the creation
of the Foundation in 1998 and the expansion of its bursary program, among
others, in 2005.
    The proportion of non-repayable aid varies significantly from province to
province, from a low of 12 per cent in B.C. to a high of 48 per cent in
Manitoba, producing differences in the debt burdens of students in each
    The report highlights a move by all governments toward tax credits and
post-graduation tax rebates, both of which tend to favour the more affluent
and do little to help students struggling to overcome financial barriers to
post-secondary education.
    In 2006-07, the federal and provincial governments provided $2.5 billion
worth of tax credits for students and their families and education savings
grants for prospective students. The value of these measures has continued to
expand rapidly since the early 1990s. In 1996-97, for every dollar provided in
need-based loans and grants, governments spent 21 cents on education tax
credits and savings grants. By 2006-07, they spent 61 cents on tax measures
for every dollar they provided in the form of need-based financial aid.
    In recent years, several provincial governments have moved even farther
away from need-based aid by adopting universal tax rebate programs for
post-secondary graduates in the hopes of enticing them to reside in their
jurisdiction. However, the report's authors were unable to find any evidence
that the mobility of young graduates is influenced by such policies.

    The report also found that:

    - money targeted to Aboriginal students for post-secondary education has
      decreased in real terms, despite a growing Aboriginal youth population
      (particularly in Western Canada)
    - fewer than one in five undergraduates enrolled in Canada's major
      universities receives need-based support from their institution
    - total government support for students, including loans, grants, tax
      credits, savings grants, merit scholarships and support for Aboriginal
      students, exceeded $7.1 billion in 2006-07.

    Norman Riddell, the Foundation's Executive Director and CEO, welcomed the
improvements in both the quantity and quality of need-based aid that students
receive, but noted that government spending on student financial support is
clearly not as effective as it could be - if the goal is to improve access to
higher education.
    "Given how greatly the future of our country depends upon widening access
to post-secondary education, governments should do more than just ensure that
need-based aid keeps pace with inflation," he said. "The priority should be
providing improved support to students from low-income families or with high
levels of financial need, rather than spending even more on tax measures that
tend to benefit those who can already afford higher education."

    The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation is a private, independent
organization created by an act of Parliament in 1998, with a mandate to
deliver bursaries and scholarships to Canadian post-secondary students until
the end of 2009. The Foundation provides students with opportunities to pursue
the post-secondary education they need to prepare themselves for the future.
To date, it has awarded more than 900,000 bursaries and scholarships, worth
some $2.6 billion, to Canadian post-secondary students. For more information,
visit www.millenniumscholarships.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Jaime Frederick, Communications Advisor
(Research), Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, (514) 284-7240,

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