Federal Budget is a Strong Step Forward in Supporting Post-Secondary Students but Further Investments are Needed for Graduate Students and Post-Secondary Indigenous Learners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA, March 22nd, 2016 – The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is pleased to welcome new progressive measures in the 2016 federal budget that will enhance access to financial assistance and encourage youth employment opportunities. However, this budget does not address the financial needs of graduate students and improve post-secondary educational outcomes for Canada’s Indigenous population.

“This government understands the need to make post-secondary education more affordable and support students through experiential learning opportunities”, said Viviane Bartlett, Interim Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

Budget 2016 outlines the following commitments to student financial assistance and youth employment:

• Enhancing the Canada Student Grant amounts by 50% for low to middle income families, and part-time students;
• Increasing the Repayment Assistance Plan income threshold to $25,000 to better reflect the cost of living;
• Reallocating funds from the Education Tax Credit and Textbook Tax Credit into more effective and progressive programs like the Canada Student Grant and Repayment Assistance programs;
• Increasing work integrating learning opportunities to better align students with the needs of employers.

In addition, CASA welcomes the significant investment in the amount of $8.4 billion for Indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, Budget 2016 does not clearly commit to removing the 2% cap on the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for First Nations students, which was a Liberal platform promise. “Improving post-secondary educational outcomes for Indigenous learners and furthering the reconciliation process must be a priority for this government as it moves forward with its mandate”, said Bartlett.

Despite today’s strong investments in financial assistance, graduate students continue to lack needs-based funding. “Insufficient financial aid for graduate studies is the main driver of drop out rates for these programs”, said Bartlett. CASA continues to advocate for an expansion of the Canada Student Grant Program to include graduate and doctoral students.

During the election, the Liberal party pledged to tackle student debt, improve financial assistance, support First Nations education, and enhance youth employment opportunities. “This budget sends an important signal to young Canadians and a sincere desire to make post-secondary education a federal priority”, concluded Bartlett.

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About CASA
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit national student organization composed of 21 student associations representing 250,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.

For further information:
Amélie Gadient, Public Affairs Officer
Email: amelie@casa.ca
Office: 613-236-3457 ext: 224
Mobile: 514-588-6509