Student Group Urges B.C. To Scrap Student Loan Interest

The Canadian Federation of Students B.C. is calling on the province to follow the examples of PEI and Newfoundland by eliminating interest on student loans.

On Friday, the Prince Edward Island government announced it was eliminating interest on provincial student loans in a bid to make post-secondary education more affordable.

Federation spokesperson Zach Crispin says the average degree costs $27,000 in B.C., and interest on a loan that size can cost up to $8,000 over 10 years.

Crispin says the expense is hurting B.C.'s ability to educate its workforce.

"We've been calling for elimination of interest on student loans for a long time," he said.

"It's something that governments in Canada have been doing right now and it's something that is widely agreed on in the post-secondary education sector," he said. "So there's simply no reason why the [B.C.] government isn't taking this action."

It would cost B.C. $34 million a year to eliminate the interest on student loans. The government says interest relief programs are available to help students repay loans.

"[Eliminating the interest] would go a long way to making sure that British Columbians don't go into debt so that they can get an education," Crispin said, noting that three out of four new jobs require some form of post-secondary education.

Federal student loans account for about 60 per cent of a student’s borrowing, so a change at the provincial level wouldn’t mean students would be paying zero interest.

As of March 2011, $1 billion in student loans provided by B.C. was outstanding.


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