The Canadian federal government is announcing new efforts to help graduates repay their outstanding loan debt. As of November 1, borrowers won’t have to begin making payments on their Canada Student Loan until they are earning a salary of $25,000 a year or more.
The Repayment Assistance Plan allows borrowers who are having trouble making their monthly payments to apply for lower monthly payments or even make no payments at all, depending upon their monthly income and the size of their family. This plan was first introduced in 2009 and from 2013 to 2014, of the 750,000 people who repaid their Canada Student Loans, about 234,000 qualified for benefits from the Repayment Assistance Plan.
According to the 2016 Budget, the changes to the Repayment Assistance Plan will produce an extra 131.4 billion in financial support to students over the next 5 years. This is in addition to the increased support through the Canada Student Grants, which were doubled as of August 1.
These grants give full-time students who come from low-income families an extra $3,000 a year in government support and students from middle-income families can receive $1,200. Part-time students from low-income families can receive $1,800.
In a statement issued, Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said that these changes will make it easier for students to begin working after they graduate and that the continued prosperity of Canada depends on the younger generation getting the education they need to be successful in the job market.
The average Canadian graduates from college with about $27,000 in student loan debt. Repaying this debt is made more difficult by the fact that many Canadians struggle to find work after graduation. Students who are struggling with their repayments can contact the National Student Loans Service Centre to find out about any financial assistance that may qualify for.
Student loan debt has become an ongoing issue in the United States as well, with the total outstanding student loan debt at $1.4 trillion. In the past 20 years the average debt owed per person has increased substantially.
And as the number of millennial voters continues to rise, this has become a key talking point in the United States Presidential Election, with candidates weighing in on how they would combat the student loan debt.
Hillary Clinton has proposed an income-based repayment plan that would cap payments at 10 percent of a borrower’s monthly income and has proposed letting students who come from families making less than $125,000 per year attend public colleges tuition-free. Donald Trump has said he would gives colleges incentives to reduce costs and has indicated that he would forgive outstanding loans after 15 years of qualified repayments; interestingly enough, some theorists believe he would privatize student loans (meaning private student loan lenders would originate all student loans instead of the government originated most as it currently works). Jill Stein, the Green party candidate, has promised to eliminate student loan debt altogether.
Student loan debt is an issue that continues to affect millennials worldwide. In the UK, the Student Loan Company recently announced that over 300,000 of its borrowers have received refunds in the past 5 years for being overcharged.