October 21, 2019

The cost of attending university or college will likely be more affordable once polls close in the federal election on Oct. 21.  

But just how affordable will depend on the winner. 

Elections Canada representative Brett Seres talks voting with a Conestoga College student at Doon campus in Kitchener, Ont., on Oct. 4, 2019. (Patrick Spencer / Spoke Online)

“I don’t usually vote,” said first-year student William Beaulieu in an interview Friday, “but cost is still important to me and my family.”

“If someone gets me a good price, that might get me there.”

In a bid for votes like Beaulieu’s, every major party has put forward cost-saving measures for current and future students over the past month, pledging everything from debt relief to free tuition. 

Here is what they’ve promised so far: 

Liberals

At a Sept. 29 campaign stop in Mississauga, Justin Trudeau said a Liberal government would increase the interest-free period for federal student loans from six months to two years. 

Recent graduates would also not have to repay loans until they are making $35,000 per year — up from the previous mark of $25,000. If a person’s income sunk below that point, then payments would be put on hold. Parents would also not have to repay loans until their youngest child is five years old. 

Lastly, federal student grants would be boosted 40 per cent, meaning students could receive up to $1,200 more per year. 

The parliamentary budget office (PBO), an arms-length watchdog that calculates the cost of electoral promises, estimates the Liberal plan would cost taxpayers $780 million in the 2021-2022 school year.

Conservatives

They have yet to make specific proposals on education. 

However, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer has promised changes to the Registered Education Savings Plan, a special tax shelter for parents saving money for their children’s education. The changes would allow the government to contribute more money to these RESPs.

Greens

The Green education plan includes several measures:

  • Free tuition for university and college.
  • Forgiving debt for students who make less than $70,000 per year or are unemployed by November 2020.
  • Eliminating RESPs, because free tuition would make them redundant.

The PBO estimates free tuition would cost taxpayers $16.4 billion in 2020-2021, but they say that with “high uncertainty” because of a lack of data on student loan holders. 

New Democratic Party

Cost-relief efforts from the NDP have focused on tackling student debt.

According to the platform posted on their website, they will eliminate interest on student loans and increase the availability of non-repayable grants.

They also promise to make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible to Indigenous youth. 

 

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