CNC Students Win $30K in Prizes
Prince George, B.C. – The debt load was eased a bit today for 30 students at the College of New Caledonia.
All 30 won $1,000 in a contest aimed at highlighting the dramatic increase in tuition fees and corresponding student debt they face.
The contest was put on by the school’s Faculty Association and funded by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.
To enter, students had to write a 500-word essay describing the cost and any other barriers they face in pursuit of their education.
The contest is part of the Open the Doors campaign happening all over the province.
Organizers say B.C. students are facing large debt loads upon graduation because of a 20 per cent cut in funding by the B.C. government. They also claim students are paying a massive 400 per cent increase in tuition since 2002.
Leah Giesbrecht, a student in CNC’s Medical Laboratory program, was one of today’s lucky winners but notes her rising debt load – somewhere in the range of $20,000 – is a constant concern.
“I feel like it’s the number one stressor in my life – not the school work but the money I need to go to school.”
Giesbrecht’s classmate Tamara Sutherland also won $1,000 but figures she’ll be much further in debt by the time she completes the 2.5-year program.
“Somebody like me that owns a house and a vehicle – by the time I’m done this program I will be $60,000 in debt,” she says. “Books, tuition, my mortgage, my car payment. Because I own those things the government doesn’t fund me. I live off my retired parents’ lines of credit to get myself through school. It’s a really difficult challenge for somebody like me.”
Simka Marshall, chairperson of the BC Federation of Students, says the average student in B.C. will be carrying $34,000 in debt by the time he or she completes four years of post-secondary education.
She hopes to make rising debt loads a provincial election issue when voters hit the polls this May – something Marshall notes they’ve succeeded in in the past.
“In the (2015) federal election, B.C. actually had the highest increase in youth voter turnout in all the country. So, we want to use that momentum going forward and get people out to the polls.