Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari is promising to offer non-repayable grants instead of provincial student loans if her party is elected next spring.

Bokhari says the party wants to make post-secondary education more affordable and help graduates launch their careers without having to deal with mountains of debt.

"Manitoba students are paying too much for debt when they graduate from school," Bokhari told reporters on Thursday.

"That is why the Manitoba Liberal Party, if elected in 2016, will convert and change all provincial student loans into non-repayable student grants."

According to the Liberals, Manitoba students graduate with an average total debt of $9,865.

If the party is elected, proposal would take effect starting in the 2016-17 school year. Bokhari said the Liberals would invest an additional $10 million a year than what the province is already setting aside for students.

"I'm a strong believer that education is one of the greatest economic drivers. And if we want Manitoba students to stay in Manitoba, we need to work toward reducing that debt," she said.

Must maintain passing grades

Under the proposed plan, in order for a loan to be converted to a grant, students would have to maintain passing grades and stay in school until they graduate.

Students who drop out or don't maintain passing grades would have to repay their loans, according to the party.

Students who don't qualify or don't choose to apply for the non-repayable grants can still take advantage of the 60 per cent tuition rebate that currently exists for students who remain in Manitoba.

Bokhari also said the Liberals would not limit students' ability to work while they're at school. Currently, students with jobs that pay more than $100 a week have their loans scaled back.

Bokhari said the Liberals will lobby the federal government to convert the federal portion of student loans into grants as well.

Converting loans into grants would remove $389,000 from the provincial budget that is spent on repayment assistance for students struggling to repay their loans, according to the party.