Newfoundland and Labrador Just Got Rid of Student Loans

Effective August 1, attending a college or university in Newfoundland and Labrador just got a little more attainable for cash-strapped students.

Our friends in the east have just made history as the first province to drop student loans in favour of non-repayable grants.

The move comes a year after it was first announced by the governing Progressive Conservatives’ provincial budget.

“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 chair of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) told CBC News.

Basically, this is something that those young professionals with mountains of student debt have known for years – the struggle is indeed very real.

Prior to the decision, the province’s student funding was comprised of a mix of loans and grants, up to a maximum of $2,380 for a 17-week semester. Now, instead of splitting funding between the two, the province’s eligible students will receive needs-based education grants that they won’t have to pay back once the degree’s hanging on the wall. The government began to eliminate student loans all together last August – a decision that comes with a cost of $50.6 million over five years.

There is, however, one small catch – and unlike most catches, it seems pretty reasonable.

As the program is designed to encourage students to stay in the province, students who wish to study elsewhere are only eligible for $80 per week in grants and $60 per week in repayable loans. That is, unless, certain programs are not offered in the province, in which case, students will be eligible for the same grants they would be if they were to stay in the province.

While the change is certainly a welcomed one for seekers of higher education, the decision has raised a few eyebrows, as the provincial budget recently put its books in red, according to The Canadian Press.

The change comes, ‘coincidentally’, in advance of a provincial election in late November.