More Canadian students will get smaller cheques - Macleans.ca

More Canadian students will get smaller cheques

Revamped student loan and grant program is unveiled to mixed reviews

by

The federal government’s launch of the new Canada Student Loans and Grants Program is getting mixed reviews in today’s Globe and Mail.

Although the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations appear to like the new program, which both groups say are badly needed due to the recession and grim job prospects of high school grads, not all responses have been as enthusiastic.

The Education Policy Institute’s Alex Usher told the Globe that the overhauled loan and grant program hasn’t been given any additional funds, and is rather an attempt to distribute those same funds differently.

The restructuring of the loan and grant program was announced more than a year ago in the 2008 budget and has been a work-in-progress ever since. This will be the first summer students can apply under the new grant program, designed to replace the Millennium Scholarship Foundation created by the former Liberal government.

The new program will allow about 245,000 college and university students to qualify for grants that do not need to be repaid. Although the awards for eight months of study up to $2,000, will be lower, that means an additional 100,000 students will be eligible to receive the cash.

Usher says he isn’t sure whether this change will encouraging more students to enroll in college or university. “I suspect that it will not have the effect on access that they think it will, but spreading money around more is likely to be politically popular,” he says.

The CFS’s chairperson, Katherine Giroux-Bougard, says she is pleased the program will being administered through the federal Human Resources and Skills Development department and not as a stand-alone foundation. In past years, Canada’s auditor general has expressed concern that arms-length foundations such as the now-defunct Millenium Scholarship Foundation are not sufficiently accountable.