April 4, 2013

Today, Nova Scotia students are very pleased as the Province has invested $4.6 million to improve the student assistance program for the third year in a row, bringing the government’s total new investments in student assistance to almost $23 million over the past three years.

“StudentsNS understood that the government is working under significant financial constraints and so we made modest but important requests for this budget,” said StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams. “The government listened and has delivered on two of our most important requests, and that’s a big win for us.”

The new commitments include:

  • An increase in the grant to loan ratio from 35/65 to 40/60 for $1.9 million
  • An increase in the maximum weekly student allowance to $180—$2.7million

“These changes have a real impact on post-secondary accessibility and quality of life for the students who need the help the most,” said Williams. “Over the past three years we have made significant progress on the path towards a really excellent student assistance program.”

Williams also noted: “These investments will help keep down students’ debt at graduation, and research shows this plays a critical role in graduates’ decisions whether to stay in Nova Scotia permanently.”

Students did, however, find some shortfalls in the budget. First, these investments are being made even as tuition is set to rise by 3% for the third consecutive year. This budget does little to remedy that. In addition, the budget projects an increase in $6 million to spending for the Graduate Retention Rebate. There is no evidence the rebate actually impacts retention, so students have long been asking for this money to be redirected to reduce debt through up-front grants or tuition reductions.