By Hannah Owczar
Another round of tuition payments is soon due, and with the holiday season fast approaching, students are feeling the nudge of debt.
Students say they worry about coming up with enough money to pay for holiday expenses and tuition.
Kenali Monparm, studying Business Information Technology, says during the holidays she opts to work in order to save enough money for tuition.
“I really have to save. Even for a cup of coffee, I have to think about it for fifteen days before spending the money,” she says. “During the holidays, everyone is going out and having fun, but I will have to work a full-time job. I can work for 40 hours a week.”
Monparm, an international student from India, says money is tight because she pays between $7000 and $8000 for tuition per semester.
As a result of the 2018 Manitoba budget, which cut post-secondary education funding and eliminating the tuition cap, Red River College has increased tuition by $250 for each program, stated the MGEU.
For example, Red River College’s Business Administration program fees increased by about $130 this year. Total full-time tuition fees for last year’s fall term cost $1,963.50. This year’s fall term totalled $2,096.50.
Other post-secondary institutions followed suit in raising tuition. The University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba both hiked fees by 6.6 per cent this year.
Manitoba’s tuition remains the lowest in western Canada, however, students are still struggling to pay.
Average loans a student owes after graduating college in Manitoba has steadily increased since 2011, according to the latest Statistics Canada data. In 2011, $8,975 was owed by college students compared to just over $10,000 in 2016.
The number of full-time students borrowing loans in Manitoba has also continued to rise over the years, stated the data. When the Canada Student Loans program began in 1964, 2,272 students were enrolled. Fifty-two years later in 2016, this figure has grown to more than 10,000 students.
Between 2015 and 2016, 490,00 full-time Canadian students received more than $2.7 billion in student loans.
While in college, a Student Debt in Canada report found that 45 per cent of students amass debt.
In February, the federal government forgave over $200 million in outstanding student loans. This marked the third time in four years that the government wrote off owing loans.
Bursaries and scholarships are available to combat high tuition fees, and many go unclaimed each year.
According to Red River College, $2.9 million in scholarships, awards and bursaries were offered last year. These awards range for disciplines like Business, Creative Arts and Health and Applied Sciences, among others.
For more information about the Canada Student Loans program visit www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/education/student-financial-aid/student-loan.html
To apply for Red River College scholarships and awards, visit www.rrc.ca/future-students/awards/