Alberta Liberals promise free tuition

But students shouldn’t get too excited yet

If elected later this year, the Alberta Liberals say they would begin eliminating post-secondary tuition and start forgiving up to a $1,000 per year in student loans for working graduates.

Liberal leader Raj Sherman unveiled the platform on Monday in Edmonton ahead of an election that’s expected to be called this spring.

The Liberals would pay for their tuition elimination, forgiven student loans and other new spending with $1.5-billion in tax hikes on corporations and on the wealthiest 10 per cent of earners.

But students dreaming of free school shouldn’t get excited yet. The Liberals have only eight of the legislature’s 83 seats and are running in fourth place with just 12 per cent support, according to a poll by CBC News. The incumbent Progressive Conservatives, led by Premier Alison Redford, had 46 per cent of decided voters in the poll, followed by the upstart Wildrose Alliance at 24 per cent and the New Democrats at 14 per cent.

Even if the Liberals win, the tuition reduction would be phased in gradually between now and 2025.

But there is one promise that would make things easier for some students immediately. “Alberta Liberals believe it is inappropriate to have loan officers consider ask [sic] details of parental income when considering whether to give financial support. We will stop this practice,” they promise.

All provinces deny certain students loans based on their parents’ incomes, which disadvantages students whose parents refuse to or are unable to help them pay for post-secondary schooling.