The announcement that the Nova Scotia provincial government would be eliminating interest from provincial student loans came as welcome news to many Bluenosers, especially in light of the proposed three per cent hike in tuition fees.
But Nova Scotians looking to stay in the province post-grad have other things to take into consideration.
Genevieve Fay said she was excited by the prospect of the eliminated interest.
“During the last election there was a lot of talk about eliminating interest on student loans, and it sort of seemed like a pipe dream because rarely does the government do nice things for students.”
Fay is a second-year King’s student studying international development at Dalhousie. A day student who lives with her family in Halifax, Fay initially received her loan in her first year.
Her skepticism preceded the government’s announcement that it will be eliminating a tax rebate which allowed graduates choosing to remain in the province a maximum of $2,500 annually. Finance Minister Diana Whalen announced the cut April 3.
It may sometimes seem as though Ontario rules the quad. However, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission reported that Nova Scotia permanent residents accounted for 431 out of 1169 students enrolled at King’s in the 2012-2013 school year, or about 37 per cent.
Statistics Canada reported that Nova Scotia has the third highest average tuition in the country with $6,185 per year, only falling behind Ontario and Saskatchewan. Comparatively, the countrywide average is $5,772. With fees, the average King’s arts student pays $7,900 annually. Science students pay a bit more at about $8,800, and journalism students pay between $8,100 and $10,200 a year (students in the one year BJ program pay a higher price).
Those studying in the Maritimes are reported to have the highest student debt in the country, with a national average of $28,000. In contrast, the average Nova Scotia provincial loan is $5,600. Borrowers with a loan of that size stand to save about $800 in interest. Canadian students are reported to take an average of ten years to repay their government loans.
Whether the province’s decision to eliminate both the tax rebate and the interest benefits students overall is hard to say. However, the interest elimination program will cost the provincial government an expected $1.6 million a year, while the tax rebate set them back an estimated $49.5 million.
The elimination of interest applies to residents of Nova Scotia with a direct-lend style loan. The tax rebate applied to any student choosing to live and work in Nova Scotia after graduation.