Calgary

More Alberta post-secondary students applying for loans

More Alberta students are looking for loans to attend post-secondary school, but the province's economic downturn might not be the only reason why applications are up.

Economy might be to blame, but parents' incomes no longer count and living allowances are higher

Amanda Gomez, a first-year linguistics major at the University of Calgary, says getting a student loan was her only option to pay for school. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

More Alberta students are looking for loans to attend post-secondary school, but the province's economic downturn might not be the only reason why applications are up.

According to Student Aid Alberta, an estimated 77,000 students will be looking for loans to help with tuition and living expenses this year, which marks a 10 per cent increase from last year.

"Back when we had the last dip in the economy there was an increase, but it's hard to say to what extent it can attributed just to the economy versus the enhancements that we've made," said the program's executive director Maggie DesLaurier.

Some of the requirement changes include not using parental incomes or spousal incomes as determining factors, as well as increasing the amount for living allowances.

Students from Ontario pay the highest tuition, on average, in Canada. Tuition has risen by 0.2 per cent in Alberta since 2015. (CBC)

The provincial economy made it tough for students to earn tuition money over the summer, said Tristan Bray with the University of Calgary's Students' Union.

"There were less really degree-relevant, high-paying summer positions available so I think generally, students were able to save up a little bit less money over the summer than they were in previous years."

Amanda Gomez, a first-year linguistics major at the University of Calgary, says student loans are her only option for getting a post-secondary education.

"It is a little scary because when you get accepted for your loans, it's exciting, but then they send you the numbers on paper and it dawns on you that you will be in debt."

The total amount of provincial student loans issued this year is expected to be about $579 million, up $42,000 from last year.