New Brunswick government announces free tuition for low income students

Click to play video: 'N.B. government offering free tuition to keep students in province'
N.B. government offering free tuition to keep students in province
WATCH: Free tuition is something most students dream of. Now, New Brunswick is making that dream a reality for many of the province's university students. The move is aimed at keeping students in a province that has one of the highest tuition rates in the country. Jeremy Keefe reports – Apr 14, 2016

The New Brunswick government has announced they will provide free post-secondary tuition for low income and middle class families through their new Tuition Access Bursary (TAB).

Premier Brian Gallant made the announcement Thursday morning at the University of New Brunswick’s Wu Conference Centre in front of a packed house.

“We are doing this so university and college tuition can be free for low income and many middle class New Brunswick families,” Gallant announced.

Nearly $25 million will be invested in the first year through the Education and New Economy Fund, $14.5 of which comes from strategic initiatives while the remainder is comprised of funds from the discontinuation of education and tuition amounts on income tax returns.

The government says ensuring all New Brunswickers have access to post-secondary education falls in line with their plan to develop a skilled workforce and strengthen the social fabric in the province.

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“Education is the key to New Brunswick’s economic future.” – NB Premier Brian Gallant

“We have significant demographic challenges that will continue to affect enrollment at our universities and colleges,” said Francine Landry, Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour. “This program will incentivize New Brunswickers to study here at home thus helping our publicly funded universities and colleges.”

Francine Landry poses for picture with students. Jeremy Keefe

For UNB’s student union the announcement is something they’ve long been waiting for.

“Both the UNBSU and the New Brunswick Student Alliance have been advocating for such a program for years,” said Katie Davey President of the UNBSU in a statement. “We know that these kinds of investments are more effective than tax credits and don’t leave students hindered by debt.”

TAB is available to low income and middle class New Brunswick families with an annual income of $60,000 or less.

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Last week a group of students from University of Moncton were removed from the legislature for protesting tuition costs.

READ MORE: Students removed from NB legislature over tuition, education cuts protest

The group’s main concern was that international students aren’t being helped by the government despite paying the most to attend school in the province.

“We think there’s still something more to be done for having more immigrants to the province,” says Tristian Gaudet, Executive Vice President of FEECUM. “We hope the government will look into that also.”

Gallant said TAB is a step in the right direction but not the final piece in their education investment plans.

It will become available for students beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. Approximately 7,100 students are expected to be eligible for it immediately.

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