A re-elected Liberal Government will eliminate interest on all current and future provincial student loans effective January 1, 2019, providing financial relief to tens of thousands of New Brunswickers.
The question of student loans, in particular how assessments are calculated, has long been a point of contention between Liberal and Conservative governments in New Brunswick. In October 2006, a previous Liberal Government announced that parental and spousal contributions would be removed from student loan assessments effective September 2007. However, on March 22, 2011, Conservative Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced that his budget would be “reinstating the parental contribution for student financial assistance” in order to save $1.6 million. In its first budget in 2015, the Gallant Government once again eliminated the contribution.
Yesterday, Gallant announced that a re-elected Liberal Government will also enhance its signature Free Tuition program, as well as its Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program by ensuring more New Brunswickers qualify for financial assistance. Gallant explained that the government will raise the threshold for the free tuition benefit to $70,000 from $60,000 and thereafter index it to inflation. It will also adjust the sliding scale of the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program accordingly.
“We will provide opportunities for our youth to stay in New Brunswick,” added Gallant. “We will do this by making university and college education in our province more affordable through investments in the Free Tuition and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class programs, and by helping families with the cost of living through forgiving the interest from provincial student loans, freezing power rates for four years, providing free childcare for those that need it most, and offering subsidized childcare for the middle class.”
The Liberal Government recognizes the critical value of a free or affordable public education, both to individuals and to the province as a whole. This is why the Gallant Liberals have invested more in early childhood development and education than ever before in the history of the province, having cancelled the planned cuts by the previous Conservative Government and increasing the overall Education and Early Childhood Development budget by 15.9 percent since taking office in 2014. Along with the new 10-year education plans, the Liberal Government has implemented the following transformational changes in education:
- Last year alone, 6,319 eligible students benefited from free tuition while attending a publicly-funded university or college in New Brunswick.
- An additional 1,425 eligible students benefited from the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program last year.
- More affordable and better-quality early childcare, including free childcare for lower-income parents and financial support for middle-income earners;
- The addition of 3,000 new childcare spaces and a commitment to expand the total number of spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020;
- An additional 100 teachers within the K-12 system;
- Investments in literacy that have already generated improved test results; and
- The return of trades to the New Brunswick school system and the addition of new programs like coding.