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Friday, December 09, 2005

tory university.

The Federal Tories announced their Post-Secondary Education policy yesterday...

Here it is from Conservative.ca:

  • "Providing students or their parents with a tax credit of up to $500 to help cover the costs of textbooks;
  • Working with the provinces to increase family income thresholds for student loan eligibility;
  • Exempting the first $10,000 of student scholarship or bursary income from taxation; and
  • Ensure dedicated funding for education by removing postsecondary education funding from the Canada Social Transfer and placing it in an independent Canada Education and Training Transfer."

okie dokie, here's our take...

a) What's up with using the tax system to fix everything? Seriously, we're glad that the Tories are thinking about the textbook problem, but textbooks are expensive in September and January. Not May. How is a tax credit going to help someone when they need the money? Let's segway into point b...

b) "Working with the provinces to increase family income thresholds for student loan eligibility" ... okay, let's make sure we got this one right... a Conservative government would make it easier for students to get into debt? sure...

c) The last two points are fairly straight forward. We would definitely support a dedicated Federal-Provincial PSE transfer and agree that scholarship and bursary money should be tax-free.

d) We were slightly surprised that some of the more controversial policies included in the Conservative Party's Policy Declaration didn't make the cut... including the dissolution of the Millennium Scholarship Foundation and implementation of an Income-Contingent Student Loan Repayment scheme...

Are these policies "hidden" somewhere? Perhaps in an "agenda?" ;-)

8 comments:

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Can any students out there give me an idea of what students today think of an income-contingent loan repayment system? When I was a student (I graduated from my B.A. program in 1998) our student government (and students generally) would scream at any politician that would listen that we demanded an income contingent student loan repayment plan. It was pretty high on students' agenda.

But I get the impression that now, just 7 years later, students might actually be campaigning AGAINST income-contingent loan repayment! (or at least not pushing for it anymore).

What gives?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Also, I'd like to point out that I don't know a single student who will see any of that $500 tax break for books. You know why? Students are mostly pretty poor. THEY DON'T PAY INCOME TAXES ANYWAY!!! $500 deducted from nothing is still nothing.

Sure, the parents will get the $500 break in lue of the students, so if your parents are paying for your textbooks that will help. But most student's I know pay for their own textbooks out of their (measly) loans and part-time jobs because their parents can't afford $1000 a year for text books.

RP. said...

Income-contingent repayment, for some reason, now means "full repayment for the unsubsidized amount of your education." I don't get how it got to that.

Nastyboy said...

Income-contingent repayment, for some reason, now means "full repayment for the unsubsidized amount of your education." I don't get how it got to that.

Boo-fricken hoo. I paid back every cent of my 35,000+ student loans. Most of that was during the period after I left school when I was unestablished in my career and making bad money.

Obviously all levels of government need to make education more affordable, but if you take out student loans, you should pay them back.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, I thought income contingent loan repayment ALWAYS meant you still had to pay back the full amount (though, I don't have a problem with governments forgiving some of the debt in special circumstances). But at least the "income contingent" part would mean that someone making $30,000 would have more time to pay it off (and smaller payments) than someone making $75,000 a year. It's a start.

We do need more scholarships and bursaries though (like they have in the States) so that fewer students would have to incur large debts to get a good education. But at least making the repayment plans contingent on your income level would be a step in the right direction.

I'll still be making payments on my student loans for a while yet, but it'll be a great feeling to accomplish that, and I don't intend to pay back less than I owe.

Mark said...

In response to the comment that most students don't pay taxes anyway, that's true, but the deductions would accumulate to future years. Granted, that really doesn't help with the immediate affordability of education, but it will help eventually. A little.

Aaron said...

I'm an economic determinist. The tax system is a retty good way of getting people to respond to incentives. The problem, however, is twofold: pople don't always respond in the manner intended and they have to be made aware of the incentives beforehand.

The money will come to students during that part of may where they are looking for a job and will no doubt find other uses than textbooks.

daveberta said...

The major problems that we find about ICR are...

1. In nearly every juristiction which ICR has been implemented, deregulation of tuition has followed. Hence, some people think that because repayment is tied to income, it's okay if tuition goes up by %500. It's still debt, it's just another way of paying it off...

2. This is tied to #1... it defers the FUNDING of the education system to students, rather than the ministry and doesn't deal with the fact that tuition has gone up at hyperinflation rates. So, your putting the burden on the people who can least afford it: Students (ironically, the old foggies in government got their PSE for cheap back in the 60's and 70's).

3. It's a financing plan. Buy now, pay later. It's like the Brick, and like the Brick, it's a scam. (lifted from Avi Lewis...).

4. Many ICR systems (see: Alex Usher EPI study for his definition of 'hard' system - Australia, New Zealand) have no opt out clause. This means that EVERY STUDENT must take out a loan at the beginning of their education with the option of paying it off fully at the end of their degree or paying it off through ICR. Basically, it means that students from higher-income backgrounds can pay it off imediately while everyone else has to languish in debt.

5. Tying it to income is unreliable, your financing your education on future employment. This works out great for professional programs (minus the differental tuition), but works out lousy for students in other faculties (ie: it takes Arts students an average of 10 years in the work force to catch up in income levels).

6. It was Milton Friedman's idea. nuff said. (see: The role of government in education)

We'll add anything else if we think of it....