Prince Edward Island is making changes to its government student financial assistance program.
Prince Edward Island is increasing the maximum amount for student loans for the 2016-17 school year.
The weekly maximum student loan available will rise from $165 to $175 per week for the coming academic year. Additionally, from 2017–18 onward, this maximum weekly loan will increase according to inflation by being indexed to the consumer price index.
UPEI student union vice-president academic and external, Jonathan Rix, said the changes will greatly improve accessibility to postsecondary education in the province.
"Currently, 41 per cent of students have been assessed and are in excess need of what the student loan program can legally provide," Rix said. "The adjustments made to the weekly maximums and the index to inflation will help address accessibility and affordability on a long-term basis in Prince Edward Island."
The government also announced that changes are coming to the grace period, providing an extension from six months to one year after completing studies, before students are required to begin repaying their student loans. This change is expected to come into effect in the near future.
Also announced was a severe permanent disability benefit, as well as a rehabilitation program for students who have defaulted on their student loans.
“As a province, we are aware that student debt is a significant issue for many students who are concerned about repayment options and flexibility regarding their student loans,” said Minister Richard Brown, Workforce and Advanced Learning. “These changes will help ease the burden on students and offer greater flexibility to ensure students are focusing their attention on their studies.”
“This is fantastic news for UPEI students,” says Dana Kenny, UPEI student union president. “Our advocacy efforts have become a central and tangible service for students and the government’s announcement is a huge advocacy win for them.”
"The province has chosen to make students a priority and invest in the future of post-secondary education in Prince Edward Island," said Rix.
Brown said he and his department’s post-secondary and continuing education staff will continue to meet regularly with the Island’s postsecondary institutions to generate ideas and discuss changes made to benefit students.
For more information, contact Student Financial Services at 902-368-4640.