May 1, 2012

(Halifax) – Student representatives are encouraged by new funding announced today for the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Programme. The Nova Scotia government will increase the maximum level of assistance, while increasing the proportion of assistance that is delivered as a grant, and maintain the debt cap at the level announced in last year’s budget.

“This is another step in the right direction for student assistance in Nova Scotia”, said Kyle Power, Chairperson for the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations.

In total, provincial spending on student assistance has increased by close to $18 million in the past two years.

“There is no doubt that the student assistance program has significantly improved over the last two years, and we look forward to working more closely with the government in this area that they’ve identified as a priority,” said Power.

ANSSA continues to encourage the government to focus future investments on eliminating the cap on student assistance entirely. While the maximum level of student assistance will increase by ten dollars a week for the second year in a row, it won’t increase as quickly as inflation.

“This is the sixth year in a row that students with the greatest need will see the purchasing power of their student loans decrease,” said ANSSA Executive Director, Mark Coffin. “Since tuitions and other costs will continue to rise, students will have an increasingly hard time making ends meet.”

For most students, student assistance funding keeps pace with inflation, until students reach the maximum cap, and then the students in greatest need are left to decide between paying for groceries, tuition, rent and books. There are thousands of students in Nova Scotia who have reached the maximum assistance level.

“Students and families have to deal with the realities of inflation each year,” said Coffin. “It is reasonable to expect that the government begin accounting for these increases annually as well.”

While today’s announcement is a positive development, the province continues to cut funding from university and loosen regulations on tuition increases. The overall direction of the government is to spend less on education at every level. Students continue to criticize the overall approach of the Nova Scotia government which is forcing students to shoulder provincial budgetary cuts through fee increases and declines in the quality of education received at Nova Scotia universities.

The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy group representing the interests of over 80% of Nova Scotian university students. We are over 35,000 students at Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, Acadia and St. Francis Xavier Universities and the Atlantic School of Theology. We are the largest student organization in Atlantic Canada.