The Number of Students In Alberta Relying On Provincial Loans Is Ballooning

The Number of Students In Alberta Relying On Provincial Loans Is Ballooning
The Number of Students In Alberta Relying On Provincial Loans Is Ballooning

In Alberta, Canada, the need for student loans has shot up dramatically. Over the past five years, the Alberta government has had to double the money set aside for these loans as more students turn to borrowing to pay for college or university.

Over the last half-decade, the Alberta government has found itself in a challenging position, having to double the funds allocated for student loans. This surge reflects a growing reliance among Alberta’s students on financial borrowing to pursue higher education.

 

The Surging Costs

The government recently found itself spending $279 million more than planned on student loans in just two years, trying to keep up with the increasing demand. Rajan Sawhney, the Advanced Education Minister, pointed out that there’s been a particular jump in loans to students at private career colleges.

Chris Beasley, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students, says post-secondary students' costs are becoming a crisis. (Submitted by Chris Beasley)© Provided by cbc.ca
Chris Beasley, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students, says post-secondary students’ costs are becoming a crisis. (Submitted by Chris Beasley)
© Provided by cbc.ca

Chris Beasley, who leads the Council of Alberta University Students, is raising alarm bells. He says this overspending is a clear sign that students are facing a crisis when it comes to affording education. Despite a slight increase in student numbers, the real shocker is the 47% jump in the number of students taking out loans.

 

Soaring Enrollment and Loans

From 2018 to 2023, the student population in publicly funded schools inched up by 2%, while those at private institutions also saw growth. However, the staggering rise in loan recipients—from 638 million dollars to 1.26 billion dollars in five years—paints a dire picture of student financial needs.

 

Questioning the Integrity of Loan Distribution

Minister Sawhney has voiced concerns over a significant portion of this year’s loan money going to private college students, suggesting there might be some issues with how funds are being allocated.

 

Tuition Caps and Financial Strain

Although the government has tried to control tuition fees, exceptions and exclusions mean costs continue to climb, pushing students into difficult financial situations. Reports of students using food banks more frequently and living in cars highlight the severity of the issue.

 

Budget Cuts and the Road Ahead

The recent budget suggests a cut in grants that don’t require repayment, further squeezing students. The loss of a summer employment program adds to the woes, even as the government introduces a new work-integrated learning initiative.

With post-secondary institutions being told to expect less provincial funding, there’s concern about maintaining educational quality without placing additional burdens on students.

 

The Broader Impact

College student line up
College student line up

Critics argue that the shift towards loan dependence is short-sighted, fearing it will delay graduates from entering higher-paid positions and starting businesses, ultimately hurting the economy. Alarmingly, the average debt for new graduates is significantly higher than the national average, discouraging some from pursuing higher education altogether.

The situation in Alberta signals a deepening crisis where students are caught between escalating costs and diminishing support, facing tough choices about their education and future.