Student money: Ending the cycle of poverty

NastionalPost.com – business.financialpost.com/FPPersonalFinance
Jun 8, 2011. Last Updated: Jun 9, 2011.    Kirsty Allen

The decision to go to school can be seen as one of the greatest gambles, given the restructuring of the grant/student loan formula that can occur at any time and the rising cost of tuition. How can students make an informed decision about the cost/benefit analysis of obtaining a degree when they cannot accurately predict the overall costs?

What sense does it make to quit half way through your degree program when you realize the total cost of your education have risen by $25,000?

Is it sensible to leave with $20, 000 in debt and no degree, or to slog on and amass the additional $45,000 over the final 2 years.  Working on the side is often not possible for single parents raising families while attending school, and, unlike single students, those with dependents are forced to borrow higher amounts to cover additional shelter and childcare costs, not to mention all the extras that raising children requires.

Not going to school  means low-waged insecure employment, but no debt.

As a single mother who entered university to try to break the cycle of poverty, I now find myself in a $48,800/year job (for which having a degree was mandatory) and carrying monthly Canada Student loan costs of $544/month and BC Student Loan costs of $200/month.

Every 6 months I have to apply for repayment assistance, as these expenses are clearly beyond my means to make. If, however, in the hectic dance of day to day life as a single parent you forget your 6 months are up,  Canada Student Loans does not send a reminder…they simply take the funds from your account. BC Student Loans, on the other hand does send out a reminder, which is decent.

My son will be entering university in 6 years, at which time, I expect to still be carrying my own debt, and will be unable to provide full support for his educational costs, and so the cycle of poverty continues as he will be forced to amass debt as well.

Kirsty Allen, Vancouver BC

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