Cashing in on the student vote

Federal election candidates for Kingston and the Islands weigh in on post-secondary funding

Liberal Party candidate and incumbent Member of Parliament Peter Milliken says if elected, the Liberal Party will give $200,000 in bursaries to low-income students.
Liberal Party candidate and incumbent Member of Parliament Peter Milliken says if elected, the Liberal Party will give $200,000 in bursaries to low-income students.
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Post-secondary funding has taken a priority in this election, with the four major political parties banking on increased government spending on student loans and bursaries to win the votes of Canadian youth.

Nick Kadysh, ArtSci ’08 and deputy campaign manager for Conservative candidate Brian Abrams, told the Journal in an e-mail the Harper government is planning a number of reforms to the current student loan framework.

“Our new Repayment Assistance Plan will help students who need it to manage their student loan payments including students with permanent disabilities,” he said. “This new Plan will make sure that student loan payments will be affordable and that individuals with very low incomes will not need to make payments.

“We are also simplifying the delivery of financial assistance so students can get information on their loans and grants, manage their loans, apply for repayment assistance measures and repay their loans more easily.”

Liberal Party candidate and incumbent Member of Parliament Peter Milliken told the Journal the Liberals would reform student loans to make post-secondary education more accessible.

“The plan is to increase the student aid available,” he said. “Increase student loan maximums and so on.”

Milliken said tax credits for students would be made more accessible.

“Right now, most students don’t make enough money to be able to get tax credits,” he said.

Milliken said the Liberals would also give out $200,000 worth of bursaries to low-income students and lower the lending rate to prime plus 0.5 per cent.

New Democrat Party candidate Rick Downes told the Journal he feels students are starting from behind due to the high cost of education.

“Right now every student that graduates from university in this country has an average debt load of $22,000, so really before you even start your career you’re behind the eight ball and you already have essentially a mortgage to pay.”

Downes said his party is pledging guaranteed financial assistance to all post-secondary students.

“Right off the top we want to give every student a $1,000 grant to help them with their student loans,” he said.

To aid in the shortage of health care professionals across the country, the NDP has plans to increase financial support for students entering into the medical field.

Additionally, the party pledges to forgive the student loans of new family doctors who promise to remain in general practice for 10 years.

Green Party candidate Eric Walton told the Journal his party plans to forgive half of all student loans upon graduation.

“We’re going to write off half of all average student debt. We’ve included this in the budget. We feel that there was an error made in increasing tuition fees to make up for cuts in educational funding over the last 10 to 15 years.”

The Green Party plans to increase funding for a needs-based national student loan and bursary program with low interest rates and reasonable repayment schedules. This would replace the current Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

Walton said he believes in the elimination of higher learning tuition costs.

“Post-secondary education needs to change the way it’s funded. We need to make undergraduate education free.”

To read what the candidates have to say about energy and the environment, go to queensjournal.ca.

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