Posted by: mystressm | March 14, 2008

How accessible is college education?

I have been enrolled at the British Columbia Institute of Technology for three months now.

So far, it has been a fun and challenging experience.

But as I have gotten to know some of my classmates, I can see that it is very financially challenging for some of them to be there.

The program that we are taking is a two-year program condensed into one year. This makes our course load staggering. Despite this, some of the students are trying to work as well. Why is this?

A discrimatory loan system
It turns out that not everyone is eligible for a student loan.

Canada still works on the archaic paternal system that presumes that all financially capable parents are willing to put their children through school.

This is not true.

If a parent doesn’t want to finance their child through university or college, they don’t have to. That seems fair enough.

The universal accesibility myth

But what if that child wants to go to school?

Unlike all their other high-school graduating classmates, this child can’t get a government sponsored student loan/grant. They are denied this opportunity because the accessibility is based on means testing the parents’ prior year’s income.

How many left behind?
The government satisfies itself that there is no way that the parents will participate in their child’s educational costs by forcing aspiring student to wait a few years for a qualifying period to expire. Once that period is up then they can access the student loan/grant program.

It’s not just the children of wealthy parents that are caught in the red-tape trap. If you are unfortunate enough to be the child of parents that work in a boom-and-bust industry – you can also be excluded – based on the parents prior years income. It doesn’t matter if a financial disaster has recently befallen them. Their child too, will be excluded from the publicly available pot of money.

An aspiring child who doesn’t want to be left behind his compatriots and wants to get on with his tertiary education – has only two routs. Work and credit cards.

Banks loans are not an option. Young people that have just left home don’t have credit history to get one. And to add insult to injury, because these kids can’t get the subsidized interest-free student loan, they also don’t get the government grant.

Sounds fair to me!

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