(Halifax) – Nova Scotia is no longer one of three provinces without provincially-funded needsbased grants for students.
The provincial government has responded to the concerns of students and their families with the establishment of a grants program beginning in September 2008. The first 20 per cent of a Nova Scotia student loan will be a non-repayable grant, averaging approximately $775 annually, to a maximum of $1,560
The announcement of grants comes after a review of student financial aid in Nova Scotia found that needs-based grants and non-repayable assistance were the most pressing issues for Nova Scotia’s students.
“This is a big win for students and for the future of Nova Scotia,” said Mike Tipping, Chair of the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA). “These grants are the latest in a series of efforts undertaken by the provincial government to increase access to education and reduce debt.”
Tarek Ezzat, a native of Glace Bay now in his fourth year of medical student at Dalhousie University will graduate with a six-figure student debt. “Fifteen hundred dollars a year would have helped me a great deal,” he said. “We need doctors in Nova Scotia and anything we can do to make it just a little bit easier for medical graduates to stay and live in Nova Scotia is important.” “In March we saw very important investments in university infrastructure, tuition fee reductions and stable and predictable funding through the MOU,” said Paris Meilleur, ANSSA Executive Director. “Now, with the creation of the Nova Scotia Study Grant the government is putting another important puzzle piece in place.”
The budget also includes provisions for a $1,040 grant for students with dependants and an increase in loan availability for students in professional programs.
Students hope that the next steps from government to improve access to education in Nova Scotia and keep more skilled graduates in the province will include targeted help for underrepresented groups including rural, aboriginal, and non-traditional students as well as students with disabilities.