New changes will save students with dependents thousands of dollars
The provincial government has made changes to its Student Loan Program aimed at making life easier for students with dependents.
Late last month, Education Minister Joan Burke, along with Paul Shelley, the minister of human resources, labour and employment, announced that government will eliminate the claw-back of the Student Loan Shelter Allowance for students with dependent children receiving income support.
Under the new rules, which came into effect July 31, the Income and Employment Support Act will be amended to exempt payments for shelter and living expenses received through the Student Loan Program.
Students with dependents receiving income support were required to borrow the maximum amount of student loan available. In order to still receive benefits, clients were then required to repay the shelter allowance back to income support.
“We recognize that this regulation is regressive and can make it more difficult for people receiving income support to pursue post-secondary education,” said Minister Shelley. “It is our hope that the change in regulations will encourage individual achievement and remove barriers to employment by making post-secondary education a viable option for more of our clients.”
Students had been required to repay approximately $1,300 to $1,700 per semester depending on the institution they attended. “This is especially prohibitive for single parents, many of whom are women,” said Minister Burke. She said the new changes “means that these individuals won’t have to borrow as much in student loans, resulting in less debt. In addition, they will no longer see a reduction in their income support benefits in order to repay their shelter allowance.”
Government’s changes were applauded by student groups. Jessica Magalios, Newfoundland and Labrador chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students said eliminating the claw-back of income support payments for university and college students will “increase access to post-secondary education.
“The federation highlighted this issue during government consultations for the Poverty Reduction Strategy and throughout the year in meetings with and submissions to government,” Ms. Magalios said. “Students are pleased that government has decided to respond positively and change its policy.”