Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Report Reaffirms the Need for Investments in Progressive Financial Aid Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA, May 5th, 2016 – The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report entitled “Federal Spending on Postsecondary Education” reaffirms the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations’ (CASA) position on student financial aid and the importance of investing in students with the highest need.

“This report has reiterated our long standing position on the need for up-front progressive student aid and has clearly shown the inefficiencies in a financial aid system built on tax credits and inadequate savings programs”, said Michael McDonald, Executive Director of CASA.

The Parliamentary Budget Officers’ report found that:

  • Non-refundable tax credits such as the tuition tax credit, as well as RESP savings grants, disproportionately benefited wealthier and higher income families;
  • The re-allocation of education and textbook tax expenditure savings towards increases in student grants, loan repayment, and student employment assistance will likely make postsecondary education more affordable for Canadians with the highest need;
  • Under the present program parameters, it is estimated that by 2020-21, 50% of students will have needs that are at, or in excess of, the loan limit;
  • Over the last decade, funding in real dollars for Indigenous students has fallen despite a 30% increase in the number of eligible youth;
  • Significant gaps in accessing financial aid remain for mature learners, part-time students, students with dependents, and those from rural backgrounds.

This report proves the advocacy efforts of organizations like CASA have been important in highlighting the inherent inequities within the student financial aid system. Moreover, the report underscores the importance of the recent investments made by the government in Budget 2016. The challenge for this government is to address the rising unmet need of students and to support Indigenous learners who are being left behind by this current aid system.

“This report provides a strong assessment of the post-secondary financial aid system and identifies the gaps that are currently being unaddressed within the federally funded aid system”, said McDonald. “CASA’s task moving forward is to work with the government to address unmet need and to ensure students from all backgrounds can access post-secondary education”.

-30-

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