FREDERICTON – Many New Brunswick students were pretty stoked on Thursday.
The New Brunswick government announced today that it has created bursaries that will allow students from low-income families to receive free tuition. The new Tuition Access Bursary will provide upfront financial assistance to students from families with an annual income of $60,000 or less and who attend a publicly funded university or college in New Brunswick. Through the bursary, the provincial government will pay the difference between the federal grant provided to an eligible student and the amount owing for that student’s tuition.
For New Brunswick Student Alliance executive director Lindsay Handren today’s announcement is “historic.”
“It represents a landmark improvement in student financial aid here in New Brunswick, and in the accessibility and affordability of pursuing a post-secondary education. This was a long time coming,” Handren said.
“The Tuition Access Bursary means that post-secondary education in New Brunswick will now be a lot more affordable for students coming from low and middle income families here in the province. For some young people, this will be what pushes them to attend university or college – effectively, this will open doors. It could help with declining enrolment. It will also mean less debt at graduation.”
Really glad NB decided to offer free tuition to nb students just as I’m about to graduate with 12 grand of student loan debt :)
— chels (@_chelseapenney) April 14, 2016
New Brunswick students from low-income families get free tuition starting next year. I’m so happy I could cry. I am a proud NB-er today.
— internally screaming (@AmandaCormier4) April 14, 2016
Last exam done. Well, guess I’m doing my Master’s now. https://t.co/00f8HYey57
— Stanley Petley (@Stroypet) April 14, 2016
University of New Brunswick Student Union president Katie Davey says the announcement was a long time coming for the union.
“The UNB Student Union has long advocated for upfront needs-based grants, the TAB is exactly that. By ensuring affordability, this program will dramatically increase access for New Brunswick students,” Davey said. “This is without a doubt, a strategic investment in a better New Brunswick. Education has so many benefits both economically and socially. Education can break the cycle of poverty – a symptom that will potentially be felt for generations.”
Though it’s a huge step forward for post-secondary education in the province, Handren says there’s still more work to be done.
.@BrianGallantNB That’s fine and dandy, but what about the graduates that stayed in NB you ripped off by cancelling the tuition rebate
— Ryan Butler (@arbz28) April 14, 2016
— Hannah Bradford (@hcbradford) April 14, 2016
“We’re still dealing with the underfunding of our institutions, a shortage of experiential learning and employment opportunities, and the high debt levels held by current students and recent graduates, among other things,” she said.
“The Tuition Access Bursary is a wonderful thing, but it is not where the work stops. Government needs to continue to invest in post-secondary education, in our students, and in the future of this province.”