Student loan program expands in P.E.I. in September

Published on March 15, 2016

Halen Sky, a first-year business student at UPEI, says she is happy about the changes to student loans that are on the way next year.

©MADISON BLANCHARD/THE GUARDIAN

Halen Sky says she is looking forward to having a little more flexibility with her student loans next year.

Sky, a first-year business student at the University of Prince Edward Island, says she relied on student loans this year but found there wasn’t enough money in the program to pay all her expenses.

Come September, that help will increase.

The P.E.I. government recently announced 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.

“I’m so excited,” said Sky. “It’s a huge relief."

She said having that bit of extra funding to draw on will significantly impact her lifestyle.

“As someone who lives off student loans while I’m working, it’s really nice to have the cost of living increased per week and to know it’s also going to be increased for inflation,” she said.

Sky says the advocacy from the UPEI student union should be credited for the student loan program changes, which also include an extended one-year grace period, before students are required to begin repaying their student loans after completing their studies.

Also announced was a severe permanent disability benefit, as well as a rehabilitation program for students who have defaulted on their student loans.

“I’ve been in economics class all year," said Sky. "So learning about these things and then seeing UPEI put it into action is just really nice.”

Brittany Baird, another UPEI student, also welcomed the changes.

“ I was very happy. When I heard the news on the radio, I got a big smile on my face.” she said.

Baird added that several of her friends were looking into the nursing program at UPEI and the changes would allow them to continue with their plans, with less worry.

“The changes will definitely have an impact on me in a positive way.”