New Brunswick Student Associations Collectively Denounce the Changes Made To Student Financial Aid
FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), La Fédération des étudiantes et des étudiants du Campus universitaire de Moncton (FÉÉCUM), l’Association générale des étudiantes et des étudiants de l’Université de Moncton, campus d’Edmundston (AGÉÉUMCE), and l’Association étudiante de l’Université de Moncton, Campus de Shippagan (AÉUMCS) are jointly calling upon the Minister of Post-Secondary Education to reconsider his decisions with regard to the cuts made to student financial aid on April 9.
The announcement made last Tuesday imposes a limit on the amount that can be awarded through the Renewed Tuition Bursary (RTB) program. This new amount is far below the average cost of tuition for public institutions and colleges in New Brunswick. The most vulnerable students in the province will be significantly impacted by this change.
“The inclusion of students from private institutions into the RTB program, without increasing the student financial aid envelope accordingly, reduces the amount of funding available to students who need it the most,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA’s board of directors. “As a result, these regressive changes will have a devastating impact New Brunswick’s most vulnerable and marginalised students.”
In addition, the NBSA, FÉÉCUM, AGÉÉUMCE, and AÉUMCS reject the inclusion of private institutions in the new RTB program.
“Private institutions are in no way held accountable to the government for their academic programs, their tuition or fee structures, or their recruitment and hiring practices. There are known examples of some of these institutions justifyingly partaking in discriminatory practices, particularly on the basis of religious beliefs.” continued Emma Miller, vice-chair of the NBSA’s board of directors.
The Timely Completion Benefit was also eliminated during last week’s announcement in order to allow the government to reintroduce the Tuition Tax Credit. The NBSA and FÉÉCUM have already made their perspective on tax credits very clear - they are ineffective measures that fail to increase accessibility of postsecondary education, reduce student debt, and retain graduates in the province.
That is why we urge the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Trevor Holder, to revisit the recently announced decisions. At the very least, the government should consider reinvesting funds into the Timely Completion Benefit or another debt relief program and increase the available maximum grants to ensure that students from low income families are able to maintain their targeted, free tuition. Finally, government should also abandon the idea of tax credits, as these types of programs have traditionally disproportionately benefited students from the wealthiest families and the funds used for this program would be much more effectively used by investing increased upfront, needs based grants.
L’AGÉÉUMCE, l’AÉUMCS et la FÉÉCUM represents students at Université de Moncton. The New Brunswick Student Alliance represents over 12,000 students from student associations from public anglophone universities (University of New Brunswick - Fredericton and Saint John, St Thomas University, and Mount Allison University).