Tuition controversy

Judith MacCheyne (right), Kate Cober (centre) and Lucas Cober (left) were all attending Mount Allison University. MacCheyne may not be able to complete her degree after the university decided to terminate its policy of allowing seniors to study for free. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Mount Allison University’s decision to cancel its policy of allowing seniors to study for free is crushing one woman’s dream of finally getting a university degree.

Judith MacCheyne, 67, spent most of her life wishing for an education so when she turned 65 she decided to returned to school.

She began taking anthropology courses and was fully enrolled to return to Mount Allison University in the fall term when she received a call from the university.

"They just phoned me and said they are changing the policy and they're not going to let seniors go for free anymore. And starting next semester, I have to pay full fees to go to school and that's absolutely impossible," she said.

The university says to keep a balanced budget, seniors must start paying tuition as well.

'I'd been saying always that this was the single biggest disappointment in my life that I didn't go to university, so go. So I am or at least I'm trying to.'- Judith MacCheyne

A special bursary is available, but MacCheyne said it doesn't cover a quarter of the cost of her full-time studies.

MacCheyne’s decision to enrol at Mount Allison University was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

“I came from a family with five kids and there was no money for it. And that's before student loans, and then I got married and I had my own family and my own full-time work so I couldn't go,” she said.

"I'd been saying always that this was the single biggest disappointment in my life that I didn't go to university, so go. So I am or at least I'm trying to."

Higher education at the Sackville university was also turning into a family affair.

Last year, MacCheyne was at Mount Allison University at the same time as her husband, daughter and two grandchildren.

MacCheyne has already taken an anthropology class with her daughter and was scheduled to take a linguistics class with her granddaughter.

Lucas Cober, her grandson, said he would like to see the university create a grandfather clause so seniors, such as his grandmother, can finish their degrees.

“I see how big of a deal it is for my grandmother and even my mom that I try really hard not to take it for granted myself because I mean, yeah, I'm 24, so of course, I went to university, but it's not that simple for everyone,” he said.