On April 9th the Government of New Brunswick announced devastating changes to the student financial aid program in the province.


These changes include:

  • Replacing the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class with the Renewed Tuition Bursary program. This resulted in the lowering the maximum grant low and middle-income students are eligible for from $10,000 to $3,000, which ensures no students will receive free tuition.
  • Eliminating the Timely Completion Benefit which is the only debt relief program available to NB graduates
  • Reintroducing the Tuition Tax Credit

WHY WE ARE CONCERNED

  • In 2017/2018, 6,319 low-income students across the province were able to attend postsecondary by having their tuition fully covered through an upfront, non-repayable grant. With these changes, all these students are now left unsure of the amount of assistance they will receive and consequently if they will financially be able to begin or continue their postsecondary studies.
  • In 2014, Statistics Canada reported New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates as having the highest average student debt in the country at $35,200, compared to the national average of $22,300.
  • The Timely Completion Benefit was the only debt relief program in New Brunswick and with its removal, the many students with above-average student debt in the province now have nowhere to turn for relief.
  • Research has consistently shown that carrying heavier loads of debt leads to slow economic growth and outmigration, both issues which New Brunswick is already struggling to combat.

Voice your concern by emailing the Minister of Postsecondary Education. Click the button below to be brought to a prepared email, sign your name, and share your concern.



Using Gmail? Just copy and paste the emails and our letter.

trevor.holder@gnb.ca, guy.arseneault@gnb.ca, robert.mckee@gnb.ca, kris.austin@gnb.ca, david.coon@gnb.ca, megan.mitton@gnb.ca, advocacy@nbsa-aenb.ca

Dear Minister Holder,

As your constituent, I am writing to you today to ask for action to help the many postsecondary students across New Brunswick who will be negatively affected by the recently announced changes to New Brunswick student financial assistance. 

I have compiled a few points to help illustrate the urgency of this issue:
In 2017/2018, 6,319 low-income students across the province were able to attend postsecondary by having their tuition fully covered through an upfront, non-repayable grant. With these changes, all these students are now left unsure of the amount of assistance they will receive and consequently, if they will financially be able to begin or continue their postsecondary studies. 

  • In 2014, Statistics Canada reported New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates as having the highest average student debt in the country at $35,200, compared to the national average of $22,300. 
  • The Timely Completion Benefit was the only debt relief program in New Brunswick and with its removal, the many students with above-average student debt in the province now have nowhere to turn for relief. 
  • Research has consistently shown that carrying heavier loads of debt leads to slow economic growth and outmigration, both issues which New Brunswick is already struggling to combat. 

As these points show, the changes made to student financial assistance are going to have real, immediate, and devastating impacts on students in New Brunswick. 

The newly announced Renewed Tuition Bursary (RTB) program is meant to replace the existing Free Tuition Program (FTP) and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TMRC) suite and the elimination of TCB comes with no plans to introduce any other means of debt relief for students in the province.  

Under RTB, students will now receive a maximum provincial grant of $3,000 for university students or $1,500 for college students, based upon their family size and income. This is a substantial cut to the previous thresholds where university students were eligible for provincial grants up to $10,000 and up to $5,000 for college students. Bringing the maximum provincial thresholds down so substantially ensures that even a student from the poorest family in the province, who qualifies for the maximum grant from both the provincial and the federal governments, will still not receive enough financial support to cover their tuition. 

In addition, failing to provide New Brunswick students with any means of debt relief while simultaneously cutting the upfront assistance that the most vulnerable and marginalised students receive, is both dangerous and irresponsible to the future of our province. This ensures that New Brunswick graduates will continue to carry heavy debt loads, which will hinder their ability to contribute to the economy after graduation and may also result in them leaving the province.

Since the government began their review of the FTP and TRMC earlier this year, student organisations, universities, and faculty associations have continued to support the maintenance of FTP and TRMC in their previous form and rejected the idea of reintroducing tuition tax credits at the cost of these programs. 

As a result, these changes are not only regressive policy measures which are sure to have devastating impacts on students in the province, but they also demonstrate a complete failure of the current government to listen to students in a conversation that is fundamentally about their education and experience.

As your constituent, I’m asking for your support in calling upon the government to do the following: 

  • Reverse the changes made to student financial assistance to revert back to the former Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class suite, with the maximum grants set at $10,000 for university students and $5,000 for college students. 
  • Repurpose the funds from the former Timely Completion Benefit to establish a new debt relief program to support New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates. 
  • At minimum, to grandfather current students utilizing the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class suite, as well as the Timely Completion Benefit, to enable them to complete their education with their expected financial assistance and debt relief. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Student

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