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Premier Brian Gallant announced new Tuition Access Bursary at the University of New Brunswick
By Daniel McHardie, CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2016 10:19 AM AT Last Updated: Apr 14, 2016 12:33 PM AT
The New Brunswick government is setting up bursaries that will allow university students coming from families with a household income below $60,000 to receive free tuition.
Premier Brian Gallant and Post-Secondary Education Minister Francine Landry made the announcement at the University of New Brunswick on Thursday.
“We are doing this so university and college tuition can be free for low income and many middle class New Brunswick families,” Gallant said in a statement.
“As New Brunswickers, this is what we do: we help those who need it most.”
The provincial government’s new Tuition Access Bursary will offer financial assistance to students from families with an annual income of $60,000 or less who attend a publicly-funded university or college in New Brunswick.
The federal government already hands out grants to low and middle-income students who want to attend post-secondary institutions.
The provincial government will now pay the difference between the federal grant provided to an eligible student and the amount owing for that student’s tuition.
The program will start at the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year.
The premier said the decision to offer free tuition to low-income New Brunswickers is a turning point for the province.
“This is an historic moment for our province. A moment where we say enough is enough. A moment where we say we must help those who need support,” Gallant said at the announcement.
“A moment where we say we cannot continue to cripple future generations with huge debt loads. A moment where we say we must invest strategically in education. Today is the moment we act.”
About 7,100 students will be eligible for the program, which represents 23 per cent of the number of New Brunswick students attending post-secondary institutions, according to the provincial government.
Free tuition to boost enrolment
The province’s post-secondary education minister is hoping the new program will encourage more students to study in New Brunswick.
“We have significant demographic challenges that will continue to affect enrolment at our universities and colleges,” said Landry.
“This program will incentivise New Brunswickers to study here at home, thus helping our publicly funded universities and colleges.”
Eddy Campbell, the president of the University of New Brunswick, told reporters after the announcement that he believes the free tuition will boost enrolment at his university.
He said about half of UNB’s students are the first in their families to attend university and many of those people are struggling with the high cost of tuition.
“To the extent that we hope and expect to be able to attract more students from the kind of background that is currently feeling — there is this phenomenon known as sticker shock,” Campbell said.
“When we are trying to recruit students from low-income backgrounds, they are particularly concerned at the cost. This is aimed right at them.”