Opinion: Student loans over sickness

Students should opt-out of working through school during the pandemic

Student Sharn Kennedy working at Starbucks to support financial needs, Oct.25, 2020 (Caroline Egan/Photo)
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By Caroline Egan

During the pandemic, students should take out loans during their studies and not rely on work that may shut down again. 

There are many other financial options that will help with expenses and won’t take away as much time from schoolwork while still providing a steady income. A few examples are seeking financial aid options such as applying for bursaries and scholarships or taking out a student loan.

Langara College has financial aid options for many students, including 120 bursaries to be awarded each year, spanning across 14 different categories of eligibility, including single parents, Indigenous students, and business students.

Awards range from hundreds of dollars to a few thousand — which, when added on top of the average funds received from Student Aid BC, works out to be about the same as working a part-time minimum wage job. 

With a student loan, you could argue that the interest accumulated would mean students pay more than they would as opposed to working their way through school. The cost accumulated from borrowing money can surpass a graduate’s income. 

Average interest rates from either government or private bank loans both sit around 2.45 per cent. On a yearly loan of say $10,000, that would add on about $245 of interest a year. Over the span of a three year program that would amount to about $735 a year in interest. 

The reality is, post-secondary government loans give you at least a six-month non-repayment period to give students a grace period to find steady work after graduating. If someone struggles with finding work right away, there’s the option of the Repayment Assistance Plan offered by the  National Student Loan Service Centre.

When you find work, you will only need to make payments that are appropriate to your income, that can be adjusted every six months. This way, no one is asked to pay more than they can afford, and most banks will offer the same program. 

Given the programs set up for students to be able to afford a loan long-term, it is best to do so rather than trying to secure enough work during these unstable times. 

See below for recent data on unemployment amongst young people in B.C.

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