In partnership with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU), the USC called on the provincial and federal governments to freeze student loan repayments due to COVID-19 in two open letters released earlier today.
“We’re in the midst of a global health crisis and asking everyone in society to stay home from work to practice social distancing,” said USC Vice President Cat Dunne. “Post-secondary graduates should be focused on staying healthy and staying home, not earning money to pay back their student loans.”
Some graduates take five, ten, or even twenty years to pay off their student loans according to Dunne, who leads advocacy for the University Students’ Council. With one of the highest rates of post-secondary education attainment in the world, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have outstanding student loans.
CBC News is reporting that the federal government is set to announce a $25B aid package to support Canadians impacted by layoffs and unexpected expenses resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Dunne said that student leaders across the country hope to see students included in that announcement.
“Our open letters represent the voices of more than 300,000 current undergraduate students across the country, and millions of graduates of our institutions who have accessed student loans to fund their post-secondary education.”
“These are the people who are going to kick start the Canadian economy when the public health crisis passes. We have to position them for success.”
Recent graduates often take a few years to get established in the workforce, Dunne explained. Anyone who is still paying off student loans is likely also facing financial pressures like saving for a first residential property and starting a family.
The letters also called on both levels of government to commit to a two-year interest free grace period for all new graduates, recognizing the unique challenge the Class of 2020 will face when entering the job market.
Dunne and her counterparts from institutions across the country are currently reaching out to government officials to make their asks known.
Students interested in helping can contact their local MPP and MP and share their support for a repayment freeze and interest-free grace period.