Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Offers to Improve Student-Loan Program to End Walkouts by Students: Quebec Offers More Cash for Student Loans

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Offers to Improve Student-Loan Program to End Walkouts by Students: Quebec Offers More Cash for Student Loans

Article excerpt

QUEBEC - The Quebec government has proposed changes to its student-loan program in a bid to end walkouts by thousands of post-secondary students in the last few months that have led to massive demonstrations and, in some cases, clashes with riot police.

The government said Thursday that loan reimbursements will be pegged to the income of students and their parents.

But Education Minister Line Beauchamp told a news conference in Quebec City Thursday morning that the government is still committed to hiking tuition fees by $325 a year for the next five years. She flatly rejected any idea of a tuition freeze.

She urged the students to take secret-ballot votes on their strike and to refrain from any intimidation tactics against people who oppose continuing the walkouts.

"We are entering a very critical period in terms of completing a degree in several establishments where the boycott has gone on for many weeks," said Beauchamp.

"I ask that access to these facilities be assured for those who want to return to class, without fear of intimidation."

Although the increases would still leave Quebec with among the lowest annual tuition rates in the country, at around $3,800, protest leaders say they would limit access to affordable education.

Under the proposed changes, which would be available in the fall of this year, students from families whose income totals less than $100,000 would be able to get a loan covering all tuition and school supplies. The amount would be $4,525 in 2016-2017 for a 30-credit course load.

Students whose parents earn $60,000 or less will no longer require a family contribution to qualify for a loan.

A new payment schedule will also be instituted by the province in 2013.

The new proposals would cost $21 million over five years and the money will come from provincial grants given to universities in the province. …

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