Masters student battles with loans

Jordan Parker left his job as a copy editor at Brunswick News to return to King’s for his masters in investigative journalism. He needed loans to complete the program. In December, he learned he would not be receiving a loan for the winter semester.

Jordan Parker loved King’s fourth-year investigative journalism class. He even left his job as a copy editor at Brunswick News to return to King’s for his masters in investigative journalism.
“The reason I left the working world was so I could challenge myself,” he said, “and I think I’m doing exactly that.”
Parker needed loans to complete the program. He had applied and already received the loans for the summer and fall terms, but one December morning as he lay in bed, he received a call from the New Brunswick student financial services. They told him he would not be receiving a loan for the winter term.
The masters programs have different structures because they start in June, end the following April, but students only pay tuition for the fall and summer terms.
Loan centres can only disperse payments twice per academic year, so they send out loans to masters students at the beginning of the summer term, and halfway through the fall term. The masters students will not receive any more payments for that year after they receive the fall term’s loan.
“It does put the onus on the student more to have a plan for their cash flow,” Kings’ registrar Elizabeth Yeo said.
On Parker’s application for a loan for the fall/winter terms, he enclosed a letter explaining that King’s only requires tuition to be paid in the summer and fall terms, but he will still be a full-time student in the winter.
He explained that he needed money not just for tuition, but for rent, internet, transportation, and other living expenses. But by the time New Brunswick student financial services called, he said they had gotten rid of his application and letter.
Employment and Social Development Canada spokesperson Pamela Wong said via email that the National Student Loan Centre takes in to account all correspondences from loan recipients.
“If a student disagrees with the response regarding his or her application for loan and grant funding or repayment status,” Wong said via email, “the student has a right to appeal the decision.”
As soon as Parker returned from his win- ter vacation, he called King’s and told them about his situation. They dealt with New Brunswick, and convinced the financial services to reassess Parker for a loan. Parker was originally expecting to receive $8000 for the winter term, but after reassessment, he only received $1,200. His rent is $425 per month, plus he has to pay for his other living expenses.
Parker applied for a bursary from King’s, explaining his circumstance, and received $2,500 from the school within a week. With the bursary, loan and salary from his minimum-wage job, Parker can manage for the next four months.
“That’s a barrier to learning to begin with, that you’re paying that much in such a short amount of time,” Parker said. “When the (loans centres) could just spread it over three semesters and stop this whole issue.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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