The uphill battle that is student debt

One has to plan one's post-education life around the demands of student loans

In one of her first decisions as the new premier-elect of Quebec, Pauline Marois announced she would dump the proposed tuition fee increase in that province.

This announcement could signal the end of a months-long protest by students there.

As a recently graduated young adult (I graduated from print journalism at SAIT in 2009), I experience the crippling weight of student debt on my shoulders on a daily basis. As I begin to plan for my future, I am constantly reminded of that massive weight, and some days it seems unbearable.

When the strike first happened in Quebec, I took the tune of everyone else: what spoiled brats they are; their tuition fees are about half of the average here in B.C.

As the conflict went on I seriously disagreed with the childish way they began protesting. They covered their faces and damaged the attending journalists’ equipment. Canada’s student debt is too high — I agreed with them on that point. Why were they hiding from a legitimate cause? Why didn’t they want to provide a human face to this issue?

In 2010 the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development estimated Canada’s student debt at $15 billion.

My own debt fits somewhere in that incredible amount of money. I have had to change my life plans to account for my debt a number of times. I worry about putting my burden on my significant other, who enjoys a decent credit rating. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to purchase a new home or new vehicle once mine finally gives out.

I chose to leave B.C. and my parents’ home to attend school. I had to – College of the Rockies did not offer the program I needed. I chose Alberta – Calgary specifically – because it was close enough to home but I still felt like I was getting an awesome college experience.

I did have a great time. I made friends that I will have for a lifetime, I learned skills I use on a daily basis … but I also wracked up a huge pile of debt.

About 30 years ago, B.C. students paid about $900 a year for tuition. Remember that old saying, “I walked to school uphill both ways”? Well, B.C. and the rest of Canada’s students are doing just that. The average yearly fee for a B.C. student is just under $5,000, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.

Right now, Quebec tuition rates are an average of $2,890 a year. With the increase they would have skyrocketed to $4,700 a year. Think about that: can you imagine your tuition fees doubling or perhaps your pay cheque being cut in half? Wouldn’t you be angry?

If I were still attending SAIT and my tuition was set to almost double as was proposed in Quebec, I believe that would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am fairly sure I would not have been able to come up with the difference.

I think about that now, as I slowly pay back the thousands I owe for my three years of education to become a journalist.

I understand I earned my debt and my diploma at the same time. I do not want to say someone should take the weight off my shoulders, but since the protesters in Quebec didn’t seem to want to put a human face to student debt – I will.

To steal the slogan from another movement: I am the 5.8 per cent of Canadians with student debt.

Just Posted

Meachen Creek fire changed little overnight

Mayor reaches out to thank community; evacuation alert notices are being delivered door to door so no one is missed

Kimberley resource, tourism industry braces as wildfires rip through forests

Tourists are still filling golf courses and shops in Kimberley, B.C., but… Continue reading

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Interior Health evacuates Kimberley facilities

Residents at Kimberley Special Care Home and Garden View Village evacuted

Latest report from BC Wildfire Service

BC Wildfire Service says Meachen Creek fire settled down again Thursday evening, after high winds kicked it up

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Thousands to attend funeral service for officers killed in Fredericton shooting

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Vancouver Island woman to attempt historic swim across Juan de Fuca Strait today

Ultra-marathon swimmer Susan Simmons to attempt to swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada paid for study to understand Canadian attitudes

These are the highest-paid actresses of 2018

In its list released this week Forbes said all 10 earned a total of $186 million before tax

Safeway union urges rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

Most Read