Student loan administrators have turned into activists! This article from this morning’s Globe and Mail.

More need-based student aid urged
Universal programs outpacing funding for those who need help, says a study by financial aid administrators

From Monday’s Globe and Mail
August 27, 2007 at 4:37 AM EDT

An increasing proportion of financial aid for postsecondary education is going to all students, rather than to those who need it most, says a new study from university and college administrators that calls for a reversal of the trend.

Over the past decade, federal and provincial governments of all political stripes have spent more on student support overall. But the report finds that most of that new spending has been for measures such as tax credits and tuition freezes that benefit everyone, and are not targeted at those who face financial obstacles in postsecondary education.

Universal aid programs now get about three dollars for every dollar spent on needs-based grants and loans, says the report, to be released today.

“Governments get captured by the ability to score political points by adjusting tuition levels or raising tax credits,” said Sean Junor, one of the authors of the report. “Student aid has never been a big vote getter.”

If the aim of financial aid programs is to encourage more students to go to college and university, then the current trend must be corrected, he said. Programs must be directed to qualified students who would otherwise be deterred because of costs, which was the original intention of student-aid programs when they were established 40 years ago, Mr. Junor said.

The report finds that beginning in the late 1990s, the steady expansion of measures such as monthly education tax credits “fundamentally altered the nature of student aid in Canada.”

The study, entitled The End of Need-Based Student Aid in Canada?, was commissioned by the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Its argument – especially its opposition to blanket tuition freezes – is likely to meet with stiff opposition from student groups, who continue to pressure governments to hold the line on fees or reduce them. The study’s call for more targeted funding relief is one that is frequently made by university and college leaders frustrated by government limits on their ability to raise funds through tuition.

Mr. Junor, who is with the Educational Policy Institute, an independent research group based in Toronto, said the study documents how the financial aid system has strayed from its original intentions during the past 10 years.

It examines spending at all levels of government on student aid and the recipients of those funds, and finds that most new spending has not been based on need.

In the past four years, all levels of government and the federally supported Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation have increased aid spending by more than $1.4-billion. About 60 per cent of that went to non-need based expenditures, the study found.

The one exception at the provincial level is Ontario which, following a report by former premier Bob Rae, has targeted the majority of its aid to need-based programs, as has the millennium scholarship foundation. The foundation provides more than one-third of all grants to students, but its funding is set to run out in less than two years.

The student aid programs certainly need reform. It’s absurd that people use the cash from student loans to buy cars, and don’t work in the summer, while others can’t even qualify because their parents have a certain income, even if the parents are not supporting their son/daughter through university. In a way, the issue comes down across a fairly clear line: should there be more needs-based student aid to help those people that otherwise wouldn’t attend, or should we as a society simply spend much more on education to make it universally more accessible?


1 Comment so far

  1. Amanda Reaume on October 1, 2007 3:24 pm

    Hey Maayan…

    Just reading your blog and noticed the statistic the Canadian Federation of Students put out about the Millennium Foundation…

    Just wanted to say that that statistic is categorically wrong. As someone who has received a scholarship from them and is very familiar with the organization – I know for certain that only 5% of the funding they received goes to non needs based financial aid and not 60%.

    Just wanted to clarify!

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet