Reported by Kurtis Gregory
The Langara Faculty Association and some students aren’t convinced that the B.C. government’s recent cut to student loan interest rates addresses the cost of education.
According to the provincial budget released in late February, students will now pay only half of the previous interest rate. However, since tuition costs were not addressed, students will still be burdened with debt because funding for post-secondary education in the province has dropped by 20 per cent in the last 15 years.
Better interest rates but debt problem remains
Niall Christie, an LFA representative and instructor at Langara, said the change in interest rates hardly begins to address the problem students face.
“The reduction of interest on student loans is basically a drop in the bucket,” Christie said. “It doesn’t address the root problem which is that you are going to be graduating with thousands of dollars of debt.”
“The logical conclusion of this trend is that we eventually get to the point where the only people who can afford to go to college and university are extremely rich.”
High school cost the issue
The B.C. government maintains that going forward, 78 per cent of jobs in the province will require higher education. The LFA said that with high tuition fees, the government is affecting the future of students.
Langara students are intimately aware of the increasingly unaffordable nature of higher education.
“Some of my friends are in thousands of dollars of debt from student loans, and cutting the interest rates will be really helpful in getting their lives started,” said Michelle Roach, a general arts student at Langara.
Other students are more cautious about the extent to which the interest cuts will help alleviate the burden of debt.
“I feel like it’ll really take time to know if that has helped or hasn’t, but if it does help I guess it’s a positive movement,” said Amanuel Wondie, a criminal justice student at Langara.