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New PSE grants neither fair nor efficient

Who will benefit from the new income-based Canada Student Grant Program?


 

After a short, unkind rant about the Canadian Federation of Students, the Educational Policy Institute’s Alex Usher discusses who will be benefiting from the federal government’s new income-based Canada Student Grant Program:

The top level of our new “access grant” has over twice as many potential clients who are over 22 and have been in school for years as it does students under 22 who are just starting out. Dependent students have to have very poor parents to qualify; all an independent student has to do – even if they are from a very wealthy family – is to not earn $20,000/year.

Forget the obvious issues around budgeting and whether or not HRSD is banking on really low take-up rates for this program. Let’s talk about fairness: is it fair that younger students have less access to this money than older ones? Or, let’s talk about efficient program design: is it efficient for a program that is ostensibly about access to be giving so much of its money to students who have already been in school for a number of years?

At the root of the problem here is an inability to come up with a program design that meets the needs of all students equitably. By applying a single set of criteria across a vastly diverse group of students, CSLP has come up with a student support system which, on aggregate, looks neither especially fair nor efficient.


 

New PSE grants neither fair nor efficient

  1. “Let’s talk about fairness: is it fair that younger students have less access to this money than older ones?”

    Yes and no. Should parents be expected to support their children’s living and education expenses indefinitely? The CSLP misses many students whose families are well enough off not to qualify but hardly “wealthy” by any stretch.

    “Or, let’s talk about efficient program design: is it efficient for a program that is ostensibly about access to be giving so much of its money to students who have already been in school for a number of years?”

    That depends on which students you’re talking about. What about professional students, who typically face tuition fees as much as two or three times the level of typical undergrad tuition? Until recently, they had to rely on very unsubsidized bank loans and lines-of-credit (something rectified recently here in NS, at least).

  2. Full disclosure: Usher made over $4 million in contracts and salary from the CMSF over the years, something that all came to a crashing halt when the government decided to do the grants themselves.

    Naturally, none of that changes the facts of the matter about the new grant’s beneficiaries. However, he might try to carry himself differently as the shrill hate-on detracts from his analysis, which ultimately merits consideration.

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