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Student debt hurts entire economy

Denis Luchyshyn | The Martlet | Opinion | April 11th, 2011

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
VICTORIA (CUP) — How many young adults between the ages of 18 and 23 do you know who have an extra $50,000 kicking around in their bank accounts? As a young adult myself, I would say almost none.

But the problem isn't the lack of money; it's that this number represents the horrendous price tag on a post-secondary degree in Canada. In addition, more and more employers are closing their doors to people without post-secondary education. This leaves the average high school graduate with one option: Take out a student loan, become one of the millions to hold a bachelor's degree and then spend the better part of your adult life repaying your debt.

Education in Canada should be a right, not a lifetime debt sentence. We need to increase funding for post-secondary education now, because this growing debt affects everyone, not just those in school.

To understand the weight of this problem, you have to know where the $50,000 goes. Half is spent on tuition, books and all sorts of other charges. For a single semester of approximately four months with a course load of five classes, a student is expected to shell out about $3,000.

Who in their right mind would live at home with their parents and pass up on the once-ina- lifetime opportunity of experiencing the "university life" we see on TV? So on top of the overpriced cost of education, let's add the expenses of housing and groceries that a freedom- seeking young adult encounters. With rent constantly going up, I was lucky to find a clean home I share with a roommate. We each pay $625 per month. Depending on where you live, a price like this for a two-bedroom basement suite is a bargain.

Add groceries at an average of $200 per month and you're looking at living costs of approximately $2,500 in rent and $800 in food, totalling $3,300 per semester.

So if mommy and daddy aren't rolling around in disposable income, the only solution is to take out a student loan. According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of students graduating with a student loan has risen from 49 per cent in 1995 to well over half at 57 per cent in 2005.

Consider how long this kind of loan will take to repay. At an average interest rate of 4.5 per cent, and payments of $300 per month, a $50,000 loan will take over 21 years to repay.

Is this financial burden the kind of future you want to bestow on your own kids — the same ones who will one day be paying your pension or deciding whether to place you in a retirement home or not? More importantly, these are the future consumers who will inherit the power over this country's economy. If they are crippled with debt, who is going to sustain the consumerist behaviour that is the underlying cause of the wealth we all enjoy as Canadian citizens?

Take action today and voice your opinion. Let politicians know that you want more funding for post-secondary education. Let's see a reduction in debt and school fees as well as an increase in grants and scholarships. This is not a cost; it is an investment in the present and the future for all.
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