UBC grads petition Ottawa to freeze student loan repayment due to grace period overlap

UBC graduates are seeking a six-month extension to the student loan repayment for students who graduated post-secondary during the pandemic.

In March, the Canadian Government introduced a freeze on federal student loan payments and interest from March 30 to September 30, overlapping with the current grace period of April 30 to October 30 granted to grads who graduated in the spring.

Patty Facy, who graduated from UBC in 2015, is advocating for an extension of the freeze.

In a petition to the Government of Canada, Facy asks for the government “to extend the federal student loan non-repayment period for students graduating in 2020 by an additional six months.” More than 440 people have signed the petition as of publishing.

Facy and her peers are looking to see a change in the student loan repayment policy before the end of this month, which would be the start of the repayment period.

“If I compare the situation to somebody who did actually get that benefit of the first six months that everyone gets immediately when they finish their program, I think that the point of that is supposed to help you get time to find work after graduation and get yourself into a financially safe position,” said Facy.

“With the pandemic happening this year, there wasn’t really the ability to do that.”

Recent post-secondary graduates entering the job market this year have faced more issues in finding jobs. According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate of youth rose from 10.3 per cent in January to its historical peak of 29.4 per cent in May. Although the rate dropped by nearly half from May to 18.8 per cent in October, it is still 7.5 per cent higher than the same time last year.

“You have all these students at the undergrad and graduate level that are just finishing programs, expecting to enter the workforce full time to start repaying loans, and that came to a halt very quickly in March when we all realized we’re probably not going to be able to get a job,” said Facy.

Facy and other supporters also sent a letter of explanation to MPs Carla Qualtrough and Daniel Blaikie regarding their situation but heard no response. The Ubyssey did not receive a reply from either MP by time of publishing.

“We want the government to do something about this but we also just want people to realize that there’s a strange little oversight,” said Facy. “Hopefully, we might set a precedent to students that graduate next year as well if there’s the same impact on them.”

This article was updated to reflect that Facy graduated in 2015, not 2020.