News release

Public Input Sought in Student Assistance Review

Students are another step closer to a better financial assistance program that should make post-secondary education more affordable.

Students, parents and others can share ideas on how to improve the student assistance program at one of six public meetings or through a video conference in French. Submissions can also be made on the Department of Education website.

Premier Darrell Dexter committed to improving financial supports for students earlier this fall.

"Nova Scotia has one of the weakest student assistance programs in the country," said Education Minister Marilyn More. "This has to change, so our young people can afford the education they need to prepare themselves for good jobs that grow our economy."

The student assistance program provides financial assistance, in the form of loans and grants, to eligible students pursuing a post-secondary education.

Almost $14.4 million was issued through the program last year to help cover tuition and living expenses. Total government support for universities exceeded $446 million in 2010-11.

The average student debt at graduation is $30,128.

"We need to make the best use of post-secondary investments so debt load goes down, while maintaining our commitment to live within our means," said Ms. More.

The consultation will help government engage stakeholders and identify options on types of assistance, grants and loans, levels of assistance, debt caps, and other improvements.

Improving financial support for students with greatest need was a key recommendation in Tim O'Neill's report on the Nova Scotia university system.

Each meeting is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and will focus only on the student assistance program.

Meetings will be held at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 16, Great Hall, Room CE 265, Cape Breton University, 1250 Grand Lake Rd., Sydney
  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, Keating Millennium Centre, Conference Room A, St. Francis Xavier University, Varsity Drive, Antigonish
  • Thursday, Nov. 18, Classroom 3526, Nova Scotia Community College, Waterfront Campus, 80 Mawiomi Pl., Dartmouth
  • Wednesday, Nov. 24, Room M2, Nova Scotia Community College, 1575 Lake Rd., Shelburne
  • Thursday, Nov. 25, KCIC Acadia Room, Acadia University, 32 University Ave., Wolfville
  • Monday, Nov. 29, Student Union Building, Room 307, Dalhousie University, 6136 University Ave. Halifax
  • Tuesday, Nov. 30, video conference, Universite Sainte Anne

People unable to attend a public meeting can participate in the review online at http://ednet.ns.ca/SAreview . The website will receive submissions until Dec. 8.

A report will be delivered to the Minister of Education in January.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Students, parents and other interested people will get a chance to air their views on the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program.

Education Minister Marilyn More says she understands students are concerned about debt and the cost of a post- secondary education and a weak student assistance program risks putting a university education out of the reach of those with the highest need.

The province is holding six public meetings as well as a video conference in French. Times and locations can be found through a link on the department's website at W-W-W dot ednet dot N-S dot C-A.

People who can not attend meetings can participate online.

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Media Contact:

Krista Higdon
Department of Education 902-424-3150 E-mail: