Help is on the way for student finances
2012 provincial budget promises relief for post-secondary institutes and students alike
According to the Alberta government, things may start looking up where SAIT student finances are concerned.
The future looks promising for post-secondary students after details of the Progressive Conservatives’ 2012 Alberta Budget were released Feb. 9.
Some highlights include a two per cent increase in operating grants for post-secondary institutions in each of the next three years beginning with $2.2 billion in 2012-13 and $274 million in student loans for more than 53,000 students this year.
There will also be $71 million in scholarships available for 37,500 students, which is more than all other provinces combined.
The province is able to fund the increases because Alberta has planned ahead and specifically set money aside for post-secondaries, said Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education and Technology Greg Weadick in an interview with the Weal.
“Our premier and our government are very committed to post-secondary education,” said Weadick.
Weadick said the government understands that post-secondary students are the province’s, “future entrepreneurs” and are a, “critically important” provincial resource.
Knowing that there is stable funding available will allow intuitions and students to more accurately plan ahead, said Weadick.
Student worries can also be laid to rest with the August introduction of improvements to Alberta’s student aid program which includes reducing the student contribution rate to zero for single parents; elimination of savings, RRSP, part-time earnings or parental contributions in determining loan eligibility; and new grants of up to $2,000 designed to encourage students to graduate and remain in Alberta.
“We don’t want costs preventing Alberta students from pursuing their dreams,” said Weadick in a Feb. 13 press release. “Budget 2012 reflects our ongoing commitment to making post-secondary education accessible and affordable and to encouraging graduates to make their degree work right here in Alberta.”
Out of the numerous post-secondary institutes that fill Alberta, SAIT was specifically mentioned in the 2012 Alberta budget.
The Alberta government made a major investment in infrastructure for the Trades and Technology Complex, an investment totaling over $300 million.
“We are excited about it,” said Weadick. “It’s a very important institution.”
The mention reaffirmed that the government investment really did pay off for all of Alberta, said SAIT president and CEO Irene Lewis, who was sitting in the gallery when SAIT was mentioned in the budget speech.
“The value of the education that is done here enhances the economy of the province,” said Lewis. “It’s a wonderful pay-off.”
With the upcoming provincial general election in the spring, all government parties are vying for the youth vote by making promises concerning post-secondary students.
The biggest promise being made to post-secondary students comes from the Alberta Liberals.
If elected, the Liberals say they would begin eliminating post-secondary tuition and start forgiving five per cent, or $1,000 per year, in student loans for graduates who stay and work in Alberta. But, this process is estimated to take over 12 years. The tuition reduction would be phased in gradually between now and 2025.
The Liberals are also jumping on board to eliminate the value of parental contributions in determining loan eligibility.
“Alberta Liberals believe it is inappropriate to have loan officers consider ask [sic] details of parental income when considering whether to give financial support. We will stop this practice,” stated the Liberal’s 2012 Election Platform.
They are also promising to put a cap on rising tuition, provide funding to schools to decrease tuition, and increase distance learning.
Currently, the Progressive Conservatives hold 67 of the 83 seats on Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, the Liberals hold 8, the Wildrose party holds 4, the New Democrats hold 2, and the Alberta party and Independents each hold one, according to the Legislate Assembly of Alberta’s website.