If You Thought College Was Expensive, You’re In For A Surprise

image - Flickr / Simon Cunningham
image – Flickr / Simon Cunningham

If society had to choose a least favourite child, it would be student loans. At McMaster University, the average student pays seven thousand dollars for tuition alone. This excludes the costs of textbooks and other additional fees. If truth be told, it is not always money from the student’s wallet that is paying for their tuition. Sometimes is the Ontario Student Assistance Program, also referred to as, “OSAP.” OSAP is a government loan program that helps students overcome the financial burden of their university tuition costs. There is a catch, however, there is interest on OSAP loans. This interest rate constantly increases until a student’s tuition has been fully paid for. Why is this a pressing issue? The answer is simple. The interest rate being charged on OSAP money should not even exist. It should be prohibited to do such a thing, because education is a basic human right. Education is required in order to live a good life.

Students should not even have to pay interest on pre-approved and pre-paid government loans. If the government is supplying money for students who need financial assistance, people might wonder “why would they place interest on the money they are giving students?” Well, it is actually not the government placing interest on late OSAP payments. It is the university. Some say this is a complete scam. Others say it is just another way of making money in this dog-eat-dog world. Both sides are right. It is a scam that universities use in order to make as much money as they can. They disregard the fact that most of the students who receive OSAP are actually in need of the financial assistance they are receiving.

It’s tragic, really. Students do not have money for the education they are receiving, and yet they are paying interest on OSAP money that does not belong to them. McMaster charges a 1.2% interest rate per month if tuition is not paid in full by September 30th. It is truly inconsiderate, seeing as OSAP payments are sent to students in two parts. Less than fifty percent of OSAP funding is sent to students in September, and the rest of the money is sent out in January. If the University knows that the complete OSAP funding is not sent to students right away, they should postpone the due date of tuition. They should take students with financial assistance into consideration. They should give everyone an equal chance to pay for their tuition without having any interest rate penalties.

Canadian students are placed in a disadvantaged position in comparison to students in all other developed countries (excluding the United States). In other developed countries, and some countries even less developed than Canada, students do not have to pay as much for their education as they do here. In France, students pay a significantly smaller amount of money for tuition. This means that they do not need to acquire student loans, which means there is no interest rate being charged on their education. In Croatia, enrolment in university is free. In Denmark, the government is the one paying the students for being enrolled in university.

On the other hand, if the government paid for tuition, taxes would be raised and this would make life more difficult for people who do not pursue post-secondary education. The higher taxes would create many changes in the social system. However, overall, the changes made would create positive outcomes. Everyone would have an equal chance to pursue post-secondary education.

Universities should take this into account and give everyone a fair amount of time to pay for their tuition. It is not right to add interest on to student loans because education is a necessity. Proper post-secondary education is needed in order to live a good life in Canada. TC mark

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