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A cloud of debt

The biggest financial barrier to education got even bigger this year in B.C.

The plight of B.C. post-secondary students was on clear display in communities across Canada recently.

The Vancouver Island University Students’ Union joined counterparts around the province to protest the rising tuition rates that are threatening to bury the next generation of Canadian workers beneath a mountain of debt.

The Canadian Federation of Students’ day of action calls on the provincial and federal governments to work together to reduce tuition fees, drop student debt and increase funding for public post-secondary education.

The biggest financial barrier to education got even bigger this year in B.C.

Tuition fees have climbed more than $4,800 at B.C. universities, according to Statistics Canada. Average student debt in British Columbia is nearly $27,000 after a four-year program. With compound interest over a 10-year repayment period, that figure balloons to $34,000.

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a study showing that post-secondary graduates pay more than the full cost of their diploma or degree in taxes after graduation.

While there is no doubt a post-secondary education brings a dramatic increase to a worker’s earning power, an educated workforce also strengthens Canada’s economic foundation. All levels of government need to do more to make sure that a quality education is available to Canadians of all income levels.

“A system of student loans places an unfair burden on low-income and marginalized students by making them pay more for their education,” said Zach Crispin, chairman of the Canadian Federation of Students for B.C. “This underscores the pressing need to reduce tuition fees and restore the B.C. grants program.”

Hopefully Canada’s political leaders can hear the impassioned plea from the next generation before debt overcomes their once-promising futures.  — editorial by the Penticton Western News/Black Press