Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are applauding today’s unveiling of the Tuition Access Bursary, which will make university more accessible and affordable for many.

The new bursary will fill the gap between federal grants and the amount owing on tuition for every New Brunswick student with a gross household income of $60,000 or less attending one of the province’s post-secondary institutions – effectively making tuition free.

A reinvestment into financial aid was first announced in the 2016-17 provincial budget. Student groups including the New Brunswick Student Alliance have since been consulting with government on the bursary’s design.

“The financial barriers to post-secondary education are real, and in New Brunswick in particular, they are tremendous,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director.

“By directing resources to the students who need it most when they need it most, government is dramatically improving financial aid and increasing access. The Tuition Access Bursary is designed to help low- and middle-income New Brunswickers pursue the dream of a post-secondary education.”

Students graduating with debt in New Brunswick owe an average of $35,200, the highest in Canada and well above the national average of $22,300.

In addition to discouraging some youth from enrolling, high debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth and outmigration.

The NBSA has long been advocating for a reinvestment of government funds into up-front, needs-based grants for post-secondary students.

“The new Tuition Access Bursary will significantly reduce the burden of debt New Brunswick’s post-secondary students face, and unlike tax credits, it will provide upfront assistance,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“There is still a lot to be done to improve our post-secondary education system. However, the introduction of this program is a huge win for students and a historic step forward, and we applaud government for taking it.”

The Tuition Access Bursary will take effect for the 2016-17 academic year. It is expected to benefit an estimated 7,100 students.

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