Opinions

Editor, the Gauntlet

Loan systems need reform

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Editor, the Gauntlet,

Canada's student aid system needs more than a quick fix.

After months of pressure by student groups and NDP MPs, the Conservative government finally relented and has opened its student loan review for public input. Now we must ramp up the pressure to ensure that this review goes beyond mere administrative tweaks.

I have launched a national campaign to press Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg into broadening the review's mandate to include real solutions for students and graduates.

Today's student aid system helps only a few, and leaves the vast majority of students to cope with unaffordable tuition fees and soaring education costs. Instead of offering more grants, the loan system has unreasonable interest rates, inadequate relief measures, and other flaws that punish students instead of help them find ways to make life affordable.

While tuition fees and student debt have tripled in the last decade, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have done little but tinker around the edges of the system. It is high time to fix student aid substantively.

Canada requires a needs-based student grant system, lowering the student loan interest rate, the creation of a federal student loan ombudsperson, and improved relief programs, among other concrete changes. The NDP's Fix Student Aid petition is available online at www.ndp.ca/education. Please help us lower tuition fees and make life more affordable for Canadian students.

Denise Savoie

NDP MP Victoria

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