Students graduating this year can have their entire loan forgiven if they complete their studies in five years or less, the province announced Tuesday.
The government says that students graduating from a Nova Scotian university can save up to an additional $20,400 through loan forgiveness. The average cost for a Nova Scotian bachelor of arts degree completed in four years is $27,000.
“We are committed to helping students pursue their post-secondary education and move into the workforce,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Labi Kousoulis in a release Tuesday. “Investing in our youth and in their education will encourage more of them to stay and build a life here, and contribute to our province's economy.”
The previous debt forgiveness limit was four years or less of studies, while students with permanent disabilities still have 10 years to complete their studies.
Many students are also receiving more money to cover expenses during their studies. The province increased student expense assistance from $180 per week of study to $200 per week earlier this year.
Nova Scotia offers a generous student support program, including interest-free provincial loans, upfront grants, loan forgiveness and the Nova Scotia University Student Bursary.
Put together, an eligible student can receive more than $40,000 they do not have to repay.
Annie Sirois, chair of Students Nova Scotia, said in a release that such changes better reflects the current cost of post-secondary education and would relieve the financial burden from students who need it the most.
“The expansion of the Loan Forgiveness Program acknowledges the contemporary post-secondary experience of many students, as the data shows students are taking longer to complete their degrees. We are proud to support these changes,” said Sirois.
Kousoulis discussed the changes with students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax Tuesday.