Student group wants N.S. government to rethink education loans

HALIFAX – Students Nova Scotia launched a new campaign Monday designed to bring attention to the financial hardships faced by many students in the province.

Students from across the province were interviewed over the past year about their financial difficulties. Some talked about high five-figure loans that had to be repaid, and others about the multiple jobs they’ve taken to keep up with their bills.

“The average debt right now for a student at a university in Nova Scotia is around $30,000,” said Jonathan Williams, the executive director of Students Nova Scotia.

Williams said the debt is a tremendous burden once students get their degree and try to find a job. It can drive many of the best and brightest out of the province.

“The research shows that if you have a lot of debt, you’re more likely to leave Nova Scotia after you graduate,” he said. “It’s a real loss for Nova Scotia to not have these students stay here to pay off that debt.”

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He said students also delay starting families and buying homes.

“It really impacts on your whole life to have that debt,” he said.

“You see some of your friends that just graduated and are still working at the same job you were in school,” said a student in the campaign video. “Now they just got more hours and they’re sitting with more debt than they know how to pay.”

Williams and other members of Students Nova Scotia met with Kelly Regan, minister of labour and advanced education, Monday afternoon.

“Through this campaign, we’re calling on the province to simply reallocate money it’s already giving the students,” said Williams.

The video can be viewed on the campaign’s website, alongside a link to a petition asking the government to “act on post-secondary education affordability and youth retention and attraction.”

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