FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA, August 28, 2014 – As students return to Canada’s universities and colleges, it’s not just their classwork they will be dealing with. Many students will also be struggling to find a job so that they can afford to pay for everything from tuition to textbooks. A recent CIBC survey revealed that 73% of students do not make enough money over the summer to cover all their costs for the school year. For those students who do find a job, the challenge to make ends meet may just be beginning. Those receiving student financial assistance may have their aid clawed back if they earn more than $100 per week.
The landscape amongst the post-secondary education population has shifted dramatically. As of 2011, 60% of students worked an average 18 hours a week during the academic year. Under the current set of policies the average student, working 18 hours a week at $10 per hour will miss out on $2880 of aid over a 36-week course of study. This is because any dollar over the current $100 exemption is counted against the student’s financial assistance assessment.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is calling on the federal government to improve current student financial assistance assessment policies. These policies continue to be out-dated and unfairly punish students who are working while studying. In a recent survey on the state of post-secondary education (PSE) families, conducted by Abacus Data, an overwhelming 95% of respondents believe students who work to pay for school should not be penalized for working and should be eligible to receive financial aid if needed.
“The current assessment fails to account for the costs incurred during the work period to live. It gives a false financial picture, causing students to receive a smaller amount than they need”, said Travis Gordon, Board Chair of CASA. “While government has made recent investments in post-secondary education to remove the financial barriers more can be done to improve accessibility and affordability”
CASA believes students should not be placed in a position where pursuing a paid co-op or internship may result in having their student loans clawed back. No Canadian should be punished for working, contributing to the economy and trying to be financially prudent.
“We are asking the federal government for a sensible in-study exemption assessment that doesn’t punish students for working while studying”, notes Gordon, “students are asking for a hand up, not a hand out ”. The federal government has a pivotal role in making sure that barriers to earning an income during the study period do not exist.
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Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit national student organization composed of 22 student associations representing 280,000 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.
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Matthew Rios, Government Relations and Communications Coordinator
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