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Alberta will make student loans easier

Goodbye parental contribution

Aside from promising no tuition, one of the most interesting ideas in the Alberta Liberals’ platform last week was that they would no longer consider parental income when students apply for loans.

In this week’s budget, the Progressive Conservative government beat them too it, with a plan that does away with parental contributions as of Aug. 1. Students will need to contribute a flat rate of just $1,500 to their educations before they’ll be considered eligible for student loans. They’ll no longer be rejected based on savings, part-time job earnings or high parental incomes.

Students have long argued that it’s unfair to deny them loans based on their parents’ incomes. After all, just because your parents earned a certain amount, it doesn’t mean they’ll share it with you.

Parental contributions are required in all provinces because they save governments money. Groups like the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance oppose strict parental contributions. An OUSA study showed that only 51 per cent of students receive money from their parents. How many of the 49 per cent who aren’t getting money from their parents are rejected from student loans because of it?

That’s unknown. What’s known is that many students rejected from loans are forced to work between classes while lower-income peers with loans are able to focus on school work.

The flat contribution wasn’t the only change highlighted this week in Alberta. The PCs are also promising to pay students “completion grants” of up to $2,000 upon graduation.

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