Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians who took out student loans this year to get $750

The Nova Scotia government has decided to compensate college and university students who took out loans this school year. They'll be getting $750 in the form of a one-time grant to offset the extra costs due to the pandemic.

Students Nova Scotia calls one-time payment to offset pandemic expenses 'a start.'

Nova Scotia Minister of Advanced Education, Lena Metlege Diab, said the grant is 'very good news.' (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotians at a university or community college who took out a student loan this year, or added to one, can look forward to getting $750 from the province in January.

The money is to compensate students for the extra expenses they have incurred as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

"It's very, very good news," Lena Metlege Diab, Nova Scotia's minister of advanced education, said Monday.

"It could go for groceries, it could go for personal items. You know, $750 that you don't expect in the month of January, I'd say that's very good news."

According to her department, 13,000 people will receive the one-time payment. It'll be deposited into bank accounts the same way student loans are.

Students who have loans but didn't add to them this year will not receive the grant. 

Students Nova Scotia, a group that lobbies on behalf of students, called the one-time grant "a start."

Clancy McDaniel, the group's executive director, said students have been racking up extra expenses this year because of the pandemic.

Clancy McDaniel is executive director of Students Nova Scotia, the province's largest student advocacy organization. (CBC)

She said some had to move away from home simply to get the high-speed internet access needed for online courses.

"We know that many Nova Scotians live in rural communities where access to high-speed internet is simply not an option," said McDaniel. "And so many of those post-secondary students had to move back to the community where their institution was located, when that could have been a potential cost-saving mechanism."

Coupled with that is the fact many students didn't have jobs this summer.

"A lot of the part-time or seasonal positions that students are used to working actually disappeared," she said. "And so that meant that a traditional method that students use to save up to pay for the semester is now no longer there."

McDaniel said the money would be of some help, but she's heard from many students who are unhappy with the quality of online courses and would like to see a cut in the cost of those classes.

Metlege Diab said she was well aware of those complaints but that tuition costs are the purview of the universities and colleges of Nova Scotia.

The minister said she has regular meetings with university presidents, student groups and with senior administrators at the Nova Scotia Community College, and that the issue was likely to be a hot topic during those talks.

"These will be things I'm sure that might be discussed on an ongoing basis," she said.

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Jean Laroche

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Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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