Reforming and improving student loans


[1B] Loans - KitchenCoopStudent loans are a valuable tool that can be improved

Author: elisabeth sahlmueller – contributor

As University students, we can all agree that school can get extremely overwhelming at times. Between the inflated school fees and the intense workload, things can get seriously hectic. Having a Saskatchewan Student Loan eliminates some financial worry.

This program run by the Provincial Government gives different monthly amounts of money to students attending university to cover some of their expenses. It’s not free money, like some people think, because students pay back their loan after they have earned their degree. For some people, this is the only way they can afford to attend university. Although I am grateful for my student loan, which allows me to pursue a post-secondary education, I believe there are some major flaws that could be easily fixed to make the program more efficient.

One of these problems lies with the application process. It can be a huge hassle having to fill out so much of your parents’ information on your form. Why is this necessary? Your loan is about you, not your parents. I know that the government uses your parents’ income to determine how much money you receive, but that is not right or fair.

It would be better if student loans were issued with some sort of equalization in mind. Every student should receive a set value, regardless of their parent’s income, depending on whether or not they are a part-time or full-time student, and living at home or on their own. This way parents’ incomes would have no impact on someone’s student loan. Just because an individual’s parent makes little money, doesn’t mean their child will be the same. Also, students who choose to attend university and pay for it themselves with a loan aren’t receiving money from their parents, so why does a parent’s income play such a large part in the process?

This school year, because we are faced with an increase in our tuition fees, I thought that my student loan amount would be a little more than last year. However, I was shocked when I saw the amount had dropped significantly lower. We didn’t ask to pay more money for school, but if our fees go up, it’s only fair that so do our loans. Also, this year I got an email saying funding will be late because so many students applied, but if the program eliminated some useless paperwork, maybe we’d be able to get our funding on time.

Everyone hates owing people money, and although it’s nice having a student loan, it can feel like a burden after you earn your degree and owe the Saskatchewan Government around $40,000 or more. Individuals start repaying their loan six months after they have finished school and have a long time to repay their loan, but maybe an early repayment option would be nice. For students who work in the summer, an idea that may work is allowing students to put some of the money they make toward repaying some of their loan. Realistically, I know that maybe not a lot of money would be repaid and not all students would want to do this, but some would appreciate having the option. This way students wouldn’t feel so stressed out all at one time and could just focus on paying back the money from the previous year.

Even though I get frustrated with my student loan, I am appreciative and would never wish I didn’t have one. I strongly believe that when people pay for something themselves, they will work harder to do well, because it will only be their own money they will throw down the drain.

There are many ways the Saskatchewan Government could improve the program to provide more help to students, but not all the blame should be placed on them. The University of Regina could help reduce students’ financial concerns by not raising tuition or allowing locker rates to go up. I don’t mind paying more for a locker, but over forty-dollars is ridiculous. Hopefully, in time, some changes will be made, because if both the university and the government won’t do more to help students financially, then we’re in trouble.

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