March 19, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - More than 520 graduates have taken advantage of the New Brunswick Timely Completion Benefit in the first fiscal year it has been available. The provincial government has invested nearly $5.8 million in this initiative.
Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault reported these figures today.
"Our government recognizes that not having the financial resources to pay the expenses related to learning may impede an individual from pursuing his or her education or may create additional hardship for the student and his or her family," said Arseneault. "This debt-relief program is another method for making post-secondary education more affordable for our students as committed to in Be inspired. Be Ready. Be Better. The Action Plan to Transform Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick."
The minister added that this measure alone will help reduce the average debt of students closer to the national average of $24,000. In the past, the average debt for a New Brunswick student was upward of $34,000. This benefit has been of significant help to graduates with high student debt. Those who have taken advantage of this benefit have reduced their student debt load on average by more than $11,000.
The provincial government established the benefit to help New Brunswickers who graduated from a post-secondary education institution after April 1, 2009, within the established timeline of their program, with student loans in excess of $26,000. New Brunswick students who complete an undergraduate degree, certificate or diploma at any publicly funded post-secondary educational institution, or a private chartered, not-for-profit, degree-granting institution in New Brunswick may be eligible.
Students should finish their studies within the established timeline of their program and have combined federal and provincial government student loan borrowings associated with that credential exceeding $26,000. When they meet the requirements, they will have all of their provincial student loan in excess of that amount forgiven.
"One of our key priorities has been to address student financing," Arseneault said. "Our government has made many significant improvements to help New Brunswickers gain access to a more affordable post-secondary education system."
The minister added that the government has made other improvements to make post-secondary education more affordable:
The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is undertaking its second promotional campaign to inform recent graduates about the benefit and to advise other graduates who may be eligible to apply.
"The Government of New Brunswick has taken several positive steps toward improving student financial aid," said Duncan Gallant, president of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA). "The NBSA hopes that government continues to build upon its achievements and continues to consult with students on further improvements."
More information about the New Brunswick Timely Completion Benefit and other student financial assistance programs are online. Alternatively, information is available through Student Financial Services, 506-453-2577 (Fredericton area or outside the toll-free zone); or, 1-800-667-5626 (the rest of New Brunswick, the Atlantic provinces and west to mid-Ontario).
MEDIA CONTACT: Lori-Jean Johnson, communications, Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, 506-453-2039.