Melanda Tolliver is a student with a disability studying at the University of King’s College. She comes from a low-income family in rural Nova Scotia that cannot provide any financial support.

Our model assumes that Melanda:

  • Completes her undergraduate degree in five years (it is common for students with disabilities to take longer to complete their programs)
  • Lives in residence throughout her studies
  • Does not secure adequate work income over the summer to save for the school year, but does finance her summer living costs (this seeks to reflect often lower employment earnings among persons with disabilities)
  • Does not work part-time during the school year
  • Does not receive any other form of financial assistance.
Debt at Graduation

Total Unmet Need



Total Costs$22,369$26,847$26,641
Ancillary fees$678$1,173$1,125
Residence (rent and food)$7,825$11,115$11,115
Disability-related expenses$8,000$8,000$8,000
Total Resources$22,369$26,847$26,641
Federal Grants$12,244 - Year 1
$10,000 - Years 2-5
Federal Loans$5,610$7,140$7,140
Provincial Grants$0$4,283
Provincial Loans$2,505 - Year 1
$4,749 - Years 2-5
Debt ReliefLoan remission worth as much as $3,000 per year.Debt Cap and Repayment Assistance Plan linked to disability, income and repayment time (max 10 years).Repayment Assistance Plan linked to disability, income and repayment time (max 10 years).

Model Weaknesses:

  • Few students live in residence for the full length of their undergraduate studies. As housing and food off-campus will generally be less expensive than in residence, we are almost certainly overstating Melanda’s costs. At the same time, the student assistance program does not meet residence costs, but “typical” student living costs based on living off campus, so we are likely overstating the funding being provided to Melanda.
  • We assume that Melanda’s disability related costs equal to the Federal Goods and Services Grant, worth $8,000. Her costs are much more likely to either be less than or exceed this amount. There is additional funding available in case of greater costs, depending on the significance of those costs.

Take Aways:

  • Melanda’s debt total has been reduced significantly over the course of the indicated years, mostly as a result of the debt cap, which converts all her provincial loans to grants for her first four years of study. She still has debt from 60% of the provincial financial assistance that she receives in her fifth year of study, but the great bulk of her debt is Federal.
  • Melanda’s tuition fell since 2004, but student fees increased as a result of ancillary fee growth.

Key Recommendations:

  • The Province of Nova Scotia should provide all provincial student financial assistance in the form of an up front grant for students studying at a public post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia – Report: From Worst to First.
  • The Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program should provide students living in residence the resources to meet the cost of their residence space and standard mandatory meal plans – Report: Students and Off Campus Housing in Nova Scotia.