Approximately 4,000 Saskatchewan student borrowers are receiving some much-needed assistance, as the Government of Saskatchewan has announced enhancements to the Repayment Assistance Plan.
On Nov. 1, the Saskatchewan Student Aid Program and Canada Student Financial Assistance Program introduced enhancements that will improve affordability of student loan repayment and streamline repayment processes.
"I think any plan for student repayment is very helpful for a student and we appreciate and welcome that news because the cost of living is also increasing and we are seeing the effects of inflation already," said Deep Pandya, president of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Students’ Association (SPSA). "It's very good that the province and the federal government are looking at suspending interest on student loans, which would be ultimately very helpful for students. They can easily start to focus on studies rather than thinking about repaying the loan."
Enhancements to the Repayment Assistance Plan include:
- increasing the zero-payment threshold for single borrowers from $25,000 to $40,000;
- aligning repayment income thresholds for larger households with the Canada Student Grant income thresholds;
- adjusting repayment income thresholds annually to account for inflation; and
- reducing the monthly student loan payment cap from 20 per cent of a borrower's family income to 10 per cent.
Saskatchewan is one of five provinces introducing increased Repayment Assistance Plan thresholds this year.
Pandya says other regions of the country seem to be having more challenges than students in Saskatchewan.
"I think we are fortunate in Saskatchewan that we don't have that many issues regarding cost of living and everything when we compare it to Toronto and British Columbia or Alberta. When we talk to our counterparts in other provinces, it's very difficult for them out there. Here, with government loans and bursaries that are available in Saskatchewan, that helps a lot and also we have one of the best graduate retention programs. So after studies it helps us to find jobs easily."
This year, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide over $102.6 million in financial assistance to more than 20,000 students.