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Canadian students call for changes to the student financial aid system

By Kate Shumakova [1]

BELLEVILLE – Canadian students will meet with MPs and senators in Ottawa this week to ask for support for working students.

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations [2] will bring more than 60 students leaders, representing over 400, 000 students, from across the country to the capital to push the federal government to review the student financial aid system in Canada.

The Canada Student Loans Program [3] currently permits enrolled students to earn up to $100 per week, but that aid is reduced – or taken away – if a student earn $100 or more at a part-time job. The Ontario Student Assistance Program [4] offers a maximum of $360 a week for single, full-time students. The cap for a loan is $7,300 for a 2-term academic year and $10,950 for a 3-term academic year.

“Over 70,000 students missed out on an average of $110 in financial aid because they were working while studying in 2012… Youth unemployment sits at twice the national average and work experience is crucial to land a job, so we’re asking the government to stop punishing students who are working while enrolled,” said Travis Gordon, chair of the board of directors for CASA.

Along with the financial aid system, the  CASA is also focusing on students’ mental health issues, labour market indicators [5] and youth unemployment.

“We are also talking about access to good quality, high quality and frequent labour market information. So we can make sure that students have all the information they need to choose what to study, where to study and when to study. We want to make sure they are comfortable with what labour market outcomes that are associated with their programs,” added Gordon.

During its three days in Ottawa, CASA delegates will have several meetings with more than 120 MPs and senators, primarily  at their offices.

Meetings are scheduled on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.