Manitoba suspends student loan repayments amid COVID-19

Manitoba says it's suspending student loan repayments until after September to give borrowers more financial flexibility. Getty Images

The Manitoba government is suspending repayment on all student aid loans until the end of September to soften the financial blow by COVID-19.

The move is in line with the federal government’s decision to suspend loan repayments under the Canada Student Loan Program through to September 30.

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“While people, businesses and organizations across our province co-operate to try to flatten the curve on COVID-19 and reduce its spread, it’s important that our government also do its part to assist those carrying a heavier financial burden during this public health emergency,” said Premier Brian Pallister in a news release.

“With this suspension of loan repayments, we are giving a helping hand to Manitobans who have invested in post-secondary education.”

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The province estimates it would have received about $1 million on April 1, and will defer the collection of about $7 million in total for this fiscal year.

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However, Manitoba Student Aid loan disbursements, such as for tuition or grant payments, will continue amid the suspension.

Borrowers don’t need to take any action for either the provincial or federal loans; the suspension is automatic, however those wishing to make payments still can, as long as it’s done by cheque or e-transfer.

University of Manitoba Students’ Union president Jakob Sanderson says this is a good step towards helping students.

“I don’t think there’s any one solution here that’s going to address all the needs of the student population, but I definitely think this is an extremely positive thing,” Sanderson said.

He’s also hoping for further measures helping students to be announced.

“Seeing a fulsome support package for renters, including an eviction ban and going further than that, would be a big help and certainly would affect a lot of students as well.”

And Sanderson would like to see aid for those students who were planning on working throughout the summer, but will not be able to.

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“Servers, waiters, drivers, these are a lot of the jobs students are working, and these are the jobs that are vanishing.”

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