Where did the summer go? That might be one of the questions both students and parents are asking themselves as students head off to campus for another year of university. Along with meeting friends – old and new – registering for classes, buying textbooks and engaging in extracurricular activities, students are buzzing around campuses already, launching the start of another academic year. The where did the summer go question will quickly be replaced with when is that first assignment due? Or, how do I do APA reference style? Perhaps even, where did I leave my iPad?
But with along with all this activity, and all these questions, many students are dealing with the reality of how do I pay for all this education? The Canadian Federation of Students has raised concerns about the mounting debt levels of Canadian students. Tbe Federation notes that student debt in Canada is increasing at a rate of $1 million per day. Student debt levels are higher than ever. Meanwhile, middle class incomes have been dropping, making it harder for parents to help out. And governments across the country appear to be engaging together in a discourse of scarcity, blunting hopes that public programs might help students with the affordability of education. The Federation notes that students in Ontario and the Maritime region have the highest debt levels (averaging $28,000). A notable exception, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, draws praise from the Federation for its efforts in replacing loans with grants.
Another major student group, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), has also tackled the student debt issue. In an August 28th press release, CASA called for more sensible government financial assistance; assistance which does not punish students for working.
1) What have been your experiences with student debt? How about your friends? Does the $28,000 average seem to make sense from your experiences?
2) Do you think student debt is an important issue? Why or why not? What type of policies should our society have to address this issue?
3) How should governments account for student debt (and in Newfoundland and Labrador, grants) on their financial statements?