Curbing Student Debt, One Province at a Time

Would you believe me if I told you that there was once a time, long, long ago, when post-secondary graduation was a moment of happiness? A time when hanging up the diploma didn’t mean flushing away the savings account? A time when “the real world” didn’t mean digging yourself out of a deep financial hole?

Luckily, one province is making moves to curb the generation of student debt that’s engraved in our nation’s forecast.

Newfoundland and Labrador has recently become the first province to eradicate student loans. As of last Saturday, provincial loans have been replaced by non-repayable grants, paving a smoother path for post-secondary success.

“When students graduate with large amounts of student debt, they’re less likely to start a family, buy a home, buy a car, start a small business,” Travis Perry, the provincial chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, told the CBC. “So with this shift to upfront grants, those students will be more likely to go out and do those things and contribute meaningfully to the economy.”

Graduation

Besides the lack of sweet rides and humble homes, a recent study from the University of North Carolina even suggests that debt can keep you single!

“People come into relationships with different attitudes about money. Some are spenders, some are savers, some are shoppers,” Marcia Sirota, a psychiatrist and author, told the CBC. “When you have that combined with high debt, it can really create a lot of conflict.”

The Canadian Federation of Students estimated that the average student’s debt sat at around $27,000 in 2014. In Newfoundland and Labrador, around 7,000 students will be eligible for the grant program. However, while the provincial program will most definitely help, about 60 per cent of financial assistance is funded by the federal government and is still in the form of a loan.

Unfortunately for us Toronto kids, Newfoundland and Labrador is quite the trek away. But rather than hastily using your travel points to fly out east, you may find greater benefits in letting them accumulate.

Departing Toronto Pearson

Air Canada’s loyalty program, Aeroplan, recently partnered with HigherEdPoints to allow students to make tuition and loan payments with travel miles. Using the racked up points from your Aeroplan card, you can exchange your wanderlust dreams for a step closer to the debt-free life.

A collection of 35,000 Aeroplan miles can be exchanged for C$250 in HigherEdPoints credits, which can then be put towards burdening OSAP loans. The program is currently being used at 70 universities and colleges nationwide.

To read more about the program, visit HigherEdPoints’ website or watch the video below.

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