Posted on Oct 14, 2020
UCP’S STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE INCREASE UNNCESSESSARY AND CALLOUS
CALGARY – Students and the Alberta NDP are calling for an immediate extension to relief on Alberta student loan payments as unemployment rates in major cities in the province remain the highest in the country.
“Now more than ever we need people to attend post-secondary so they can learn the skills they need to help us secure our economic future, said David Eggen, Critic for Advanced Education. “The UCP needs to send a positive message to people thinking about post-secondary now, and not present more barriers.”
Last spring, with pressure mounting from students and the Alberta NDP, the UCP Government implemented a temporary freeze on student loan interest payments. On February 28, Albertans with a provincial student loan were notified that the interest rate would increase from prime to prime +1%. Student loan payments were then deferred from March 30 until September 30 due to the pandemic.
Six months later, the situation for many Albertans has not improved. Alberta’s unemployment rate sits at 11.8% and students are being compelled to pay back their student loans after facing a summer and fall of unemployment.
Jayme Tucker, who recently graduated from the Journalism program at SAIT, has had a hard time finding work in her field since graduation.
“This policy continues to target already struggling families and individuals by making post-secondary financially inaccessible or by saddling young Albertans with student debt that will take them 10-15 years to pay off,” Tucker said.
Max Russell Maxwell hasn’t been able to find work since the beginning of the pandemic due to a downturn in his industry.
“Now, having to pay an extra $40 or $50 per month in interest on my student loans will mean I can’t save money should something happen,” Maxwell said. “It will mean that at the end of the month I will have to choose between groceries or utilities.”
Eggen said Jason Kenney is digging into the pockets of recently graduated Albertans to pay for his $4.7 billion handout to profitable corporations, which has yet to create a single job.
“This is wrong,” Eggen said. “That is why I am calling on Jason Kenney and the UCP to continue the deferral of student loan repayment for another six months, and give Albertans a fighting chance to keep their head above water during this difficult time.”
The federal student loan interest rate is prime. British Columbia removed interest on their student loans in February of 2019.