Provincial minister joins AMS, Santa Ono to celebrate elimination of BC student loan interest

Almost a month after the elimination of interest on provincial student loans, the BC government stopped by campus today to celebrate their widely-lauded decision.

Standing in the Nest’s Lower Atrium, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark and UBC President Santa Ono acknowledged the work of past and current AMS executives for their efforts advocating for more affordable post-secondary education.

“Today is all about students that have been advocating for change, students that said the cost of education was out of reach and they wanted a government that was going to work for them,” Mark said.

Mark also emphasized the impact of this decision on the equity of higher education.

“You can’t get your dream job if you’re worried about the heavy cost and burden of debt,” she said. “It’s about leveling the playing field.”

The BC government estimates the decision will save students $22 million in the coming year, as well as the average borrower $2,300 in the 10 years post-graduation.

Ono reiterated the impact the decision will have for current students as well as future graduates, calling the decision an “extraordinary investment in the future of our province.”

“This partnership between the province and the university is a very strong one,” he said. “We are very lucky [to have] the kind of relationship which is really rolling our sleeves up at the table and figuring out how we can partner to benefit the students.”

AMS President Marium Hamid stressed the benefit this decision will have on middle and lower income students, who usually end up paying much more for their education than those who can pay in full upfront because of interest

“For many, this announcement allows them to know that there is a place for them in higher education, that they have the support to start their journey here,” VP External Cristina Ilnitchi said.

But the AMS isn’t done fighting for more affordable education, Ilnitchi added. The society has been and will continue to push for better grants at the provincial level.

According to Mark, the BC government is committed to working on student housing issues, investing in graduate students and expanding technology and engineering education. She added that there’s “more to come” from the province.

Similarly, Ilnitchi noted that the AMS will aim to continue tackling the federal portion of student loans.

“We want to continue improving on it and continue to advocate for students,” she said. “Lots of work that still needs to be done there and that will definitely be happening soon.”