Education at an expensive cost Post-secondary students drowning in debtUncategorized
Georgie Slogar achieved her educational ambitions, but at a cost.
Despite graduating from Carleton University in 2004 with a criminology degree, Slogar, 31, owes more than $55,000 in student loans and seriously doubts she will ever fully pay them off.
When the Ottawa native and single mom filled out the loan applications, she mistakenly listed all costs associated with raising her daughter under the section asking for child-care expenses.
It wasn’t until her final year that she found out that what the government had meant was daycare costs and that the error had landed her in hot water.
Her loan file was put under investigation and she is no longer entitled to receive student loans. A grant she had previously received was clawed back.
In order to pay back what she owes and because she can’t afford to return to school, Slogar has taken on a job which pays slightly higher than minimum wage.
She has appealed the matter and has sought support from politicians, but doesn’t think it will ever get better.
“I’ll probably be just paying the interest monthly, I don’t think it will ever go down,” she said.
A report released this week by the Vancouver-based Coalition for Student Loan Fairness states there are more than 990,000 federal student loan borrowers.
The Canadian Student Loans Program: Solutions to Improve Public Confidence and Operational Effectiveness report proposes a reduction in, or the elimination of, interest on all federal student loans, improvements on how interest relief is granted and operated and the creation of an Ombudsman to oversee escalated student loan disputes.
The report also calls for improved regulations for borrowers who become permanently disabled or die.
Among other proposals, the report suggests the reinstatement of the six-month interest-free period after graduation.
Julian Benedict, the report’s author, said there is little financial incentive for the federal government to follow through with the recommendations.
“We believe that the government is using student high interest loan money to subsidize other parts of the student loan system,” he said.
“It’s in their interest to continue overcharging students. But we think the public is becoming more aware of this problem and it’s going to force the government to start treating students more fairly.”
Lesley Harmer, spokeswoman for Monte Solberg, the minister of human resources and social development Canada, noted the government has launched a review of the CSLP and consultations are underway and will continue over the summer.
However, the government can’t just pay lip service to borrowers by holding consultations.
“I really will be pressing for a full review with public consultation and student involvement because to me the issue has become too serious to leave it to just an administrative review,” she said.