B.C. postsecondary student loan interest rate should be lowered, says Moira Stilwell

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      B.C. Liberal leadership contender Moira Stilwell says she wants to see a decrease to interest rates on postsecondary student loans.

      But the provincial chair of a national student lobby group argues the former cabinet minister should go further.

      “At the current rate of prime plus 2.5 per cent, the student loan interest rate in B.C. is the highest in Canada,” Stilwell says in a news release today (November 29).

      “I believe it should be reduced to no more than prime plus one per cent.”

      The Canadian Federation of Students has voiced a mixed response to the Vancouver-Langara MLA’s policy-platform announcement.

      “We acknowledge that it’s a step, but we would like to challenge her to take that a step further and to eliminate interest on student loans altogether,” said Nimmi Takkar, the organization’s B.C. chair.

      “Students in this province are drowning in debt,” Takkar told the Straight today by phone.

      On average, B.C. postsecondary students graduate after four years with $27,000 in debt, she claimed.

      Stilwell, who was not immediately available for an interview, says the rate reduction would help boost the economy by fostering the development of skilled workers.

      Takkar said students will be keeping a close eye on the candidates who hope to succeed Gordon Campbell as premier after Liberal party members vote for a new leader in late February 2011.

      “They would like to see the next premier of this province have a vision for postsecondary education, one that includes an affordable, accessible plan for postsecondary education.”

      The CFS is also calling for tuition-fee reductions, creation of a grants system, and increases to the core funding institutions receive.

      Before resigning from cabinet to enter the leadership fray, Stilwell was regional economic and skills development minister, a portfolio that covered college-level matters. First elected as MLA in 2009, she has also served as minister of advanced education.

      Former education minister George Abbott is the only other person to have launched a leadership campaign. Cabinet ministers Mike de Jong and Kevin Falcon are expected to announce plans in the coming days.




      Nov 29, 2010 at 2:54pm

      You've got to be kidding. Someone have to make up the short fall for the tax breaks big co are getting and the payment for golden plated pensions
      Gordy and his boys will get.

      glen p robbins

      Nov 29, 2010 at 4:02pm

      60 and over homeowners defer city taxes at around 2% simple interest. The student loans should attract the same -.

      glen p robbins

      Nov 29, 2010 at 4:07pm

      With respect, Moira - you might consider moving in on the health file - Mr. Abbott will be able to place you there//it is a natural challenge to Kevin Falcon for debates. Health is his last portfolio - and its your comfort. Polak and Black are set to support Falcon. Polak is getting hammered on Children and Families - Black was a monster on the file - and Christy couldn't handle it.

      The Karma police with challenge de Jong.

      financial aid officer

      Nov 29, 2010 at 7:00pm

      interesting she is talking about lowering the interest rate now. BC is signing an agreement with Canada student loans program on Dec 15 to integrate BC student loans with the canada student loans. At the point the agreement is signed, BC will no longer have the power to set it's own interest rate. It will have to conform with the federal rates. Is she clueless that her government is signing this integration agreement? It's already gone to treasury board for initial approval


      Nov 29, 2010 at 7:30pm

      It's a tough issue. I would think that targeting the on-campus direct marketing of credit cards to students ("Sign up now, and receive this free pen!!") would have a pretty influential impact on student debt load too.... Racking up 5000 in credit card debt is easily less manageable than 20K in student loans.... especially with the interest deferral plans.

      former uni student the hard way or maybe ritght way

      Nov 29, 2010 at 9:34pm

      One of my best friends simply defaulted on his loan. I worked on drilling rigs for four years and saved $150K to pay for my education before going to uni to get a degree in engineering.

      It never seemed to bother my friend to default on his loan but I couldn't do what he did. Moira, if students are drowning in debt, they might get a job first to pay for their education rather than learning to become deadbeats who just end up becoming politicians or government employees who learn to milk the system without working for what they have.

      glen p robbins

      Nov 30, 2010 at 8:07am

      financial aid officer -- HST moves taxes to Ottawa, of the majority of British Columbians against the HST some of those don't because of this shift. This presents an opportunity to for students to piggyback HST (general consumers/voters) with their own situation.

      "I'm against this - I'm for this"

      financial aid officer

      Nov 30, 2010 at 12:32pm

      HST has nothing to do with student loan repayment rates. It's federal CSLP legislation

      glen p robbins

      Nov 30, 2010 at 2:10pm

      The technicalities don't imagine to much - I'm talking the politics of these things in the midst of a leadership race where change or the ability to show cause of change matters -- and the anti-HST ---$$ is floating around like a turd in Victoria's coastline.

      Parent of adult children

      Nov 30, 2010 at 2:35pm

      Go to students and their parents, as well as student-body leaders, for input on this issue of student loan repayment.