Reinvestment of Tuition Rebate Funds Overdue

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are frustrated with government’s failure to reinvest funds from the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate (NBTR) back into student financial aid, six months after it was announced that the tax credit would be eliminated.

The NBTR, which provided a maximum of $20,000 to graduates who remained and worked in the province, was scrapped in the 2015-16 provincial budget.

At the time, the cut was estimated at $22.4 million.

“The New Brunswick Tuition Rebate was by no means the perfect program, and we understand the rationale for its elimination,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “However, to be standing here six months out with no reinvestment of those funds back into financial aid – or clear plan in place to do so – is extremely worrisome.”

“Post-secondary students in New Brunswick face an uphill battle in financing their education, and government inaction will only make it harder.”

New Brunswick students graduating with debt owe an average of $35,200, the highest across all ten provinces. That amount is expected to increase following recent decisions to eliminate the NBTR and to raise the debt cap on the Timely Completion Benefit.

High student debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth and outmigration.

“Once again, we are calling on government to invest in affordable and accessible education,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “Post-secondary students in New Brunswick represent the future of this province, and reinvesting funds from the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate back into student financial aid represents an obvious step toward protecting that future.”

“We believe those funds would have the greatest impact in the form of up-front, need-based grants. We strongly urge government to invest strategically to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to pursue a post-secondary degree.”

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Student Debt Map a Reminder of Action Needed

Fredericton, NB – A student debt map compiled by Consolidated Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) has post-secondary students in New Brunswick calling on government to take action and address high levels of student debt.

The map, which incorporated data on both average student debt and tuition levels, ranked New Brunswick first among all ten Canadian provinces by degree of debt and second in terms of tuition fees. Students in the province graduating with debt owe an average of $35,200 – well above the national average of $22,300.

“These numbers are discouraging, but they should not be surprising,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “The data on student debt was first made available last year. Unfortunately, government has yet to take any concrete steps toward reducing New Brunswick students’ high debt levels.”

Recent government decisions to raise the debt-cap for the Timely Completion Benefit and eliminate the New Brunswick Tuition Rebate have placed added financial strain on students and recent graduates. With no new investment, debt levels can be expected to rise.

The higher a student’s debt, the more likely he or she is to leave the province at graduation.

“The importance of retaining post-secondary graduates cannot be overstated,“ said Katie Davey, NBSA Board Vice-Chair. “These individuals will be vital to New Brunswick’s economic and demographic recovery.”

“New Brunswick is failing to capture the full potential of its youth. To do that, government needs to invest in affordable education and ensure that post-secondary students are adequately supported both during and after their studies. We strongly encourage government to take action on this issue and slow the exodus of youth from our province.”

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