Alberta NDP government begins tuition freeze for post-secondary students

The University of Alberta campus in Edmonton, Alberta. April 17, 2015. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

EDMONTON — After promising to do so during the summer, the Alberta government announced Tuesday a two-year freeze on tuition and fees for post-secondary students.

The freezes will last for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. The government will also review the overall funding model for Campus Alberta starting this fall.

“Higher education is vital to our future prosperity and ensuring that it remains affordable and accessible for families is one way our government is investing in Albertans,” said Lori Sigurdson, minister of Innovation and Advanced Education.

In June, the NDP government announced plans to put a two-year tuition freeze in place. It also said it would reverse a 1.4 per cent cut to post-secondary institutions and increase base funding by two per cent.

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At the time, the Opposition Wildrose Party raised concerns about where the money would come from.

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“I don’t know how they’re going to come up with this money if they want to put freezes on, how it’s going to affect the schools and how they’re going to reimburse students that have been paying more,” said Wes Taylor, the Wildrose advanced education critic.

READ MORE: Calgary students launch campaign against post-secondary education cuts 

The NDP said Bill 3 – the Appropriation (Interim Supply) Act – reversed cuts made by the previous PC government, including the 1.4 per cent to post-secondary institutions. The government said interim supply funding also helped increase base funding for post-secondary institutions by two per cent, freeze tuition and mandatory non-instructional student fees for two years, cancel market modifiers that were approved for 25 programs, and restore apprenticeship and targeted enrolment funding.

“I can tell you that even a temporary tuition freeze is a welcome relief for post-secondary students and their families,” said Erik Queenan, president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University.

“It’s a good first step after years of increases and ever-growing student debt. Every penny counts. Students are pleased that the government is considering students’ needs and that they’re consulting us.”

According to the province, the average Alberta post-secondary student loan borrower received approximately $12,500 in combined Canada and Alberta student loans and grants in 2014-15.

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