The Hardships

Don’t Worry About Us – We’re Only the Future

For those of you who are not living what many of us 18-25 year young old adults are, let me paint you a picture. Imagine being 21, having completed two and a half years of university, having paid for it by yourself by working hard during those 4 months of vacation and having the opportunity to receive bursaries and grants towards to tuition, only to be slapped in the face yet again by the government with the new Tuition Access Bursary.

Or, being a recent graduate who was promised years ago by the government of New Brunswick that there would be a cap on student loan repayments (Tuition Rebate Program), only to be told that the program will no longer exist and that you are now responsible for paying it in full.

It saddens me that this is the current situation for 40,000 New Brunswick students studying at a New Brunswick university or college. When the news first came out about the TAB (Tuition Access Bursary), students everywhere were excited about the changes, until they read further into it and their excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration. The TAB offers free tuition to any student whose parents combined salary is equal to or under 60,000$. This seems great except, the reality is that it applies to around 7000 students in NB. This leaves 40,000 NB students in fear of their future, stressed about financial aid and ultimately, frustrated about being let down yet again by the government.

Students whose parents make between 60,000 and 80,000 a year are definitely taking the news the hardest. Even if their parents make over 60 K, who is to say they can afford to pay for their child’s tuition? Some people are in debt, some people don’t have enough saved up, some have many children going to university or college at the same time, some just may be struggling in general. The government does not know everyone’s story and clearly does not take the time to look into it either.

As a student who pays for her own education, why should my parents income even matter? I can guarantee you that I do not make over 60,000 $ a year, but I can also honestly say that I have paid all of my tuition out of my own pocket – and I’ve worked hard for that. So the fact that the government wants to make it even more difficult for us to get an education is infuriating and frustrating.

Just when we thought it could not get any worse, they added more fuel to the fire with the changes to the SEED program. SEED (Student Employment Experience  Development), offers students the following according to gnb.ca :

“The aim of the program is to enhance students’ employment prospects upon completion of their studies, while enabling them to finance the continuation of their education.”

Sounds like a great program right? And it was a great program up until this year when they changed the application process. Before, students had equal chances for job opportunities and completed interviews before even receiving the grant. This worked out great because the employers could interview and pick the students they wanted, who they thought best fit the job.

This year, we students, filled out a small online application. From there, we were given little information on what would happen. Turns out, students are given vouchers which allow them to apply for jobs. If a student does not get a voucher, they are placed on a waiting list. To my knowledge, it is a first come first serve basis however, I could be mistaken. I feel that it is very unfair  to deny students the opportunity to apply to jobs that they are extremely qualified for . As a student who worked for a non-profit organization for children with special needs, it is important to have experienced staff members on the team. These students help guide the new staff and make the environment considerably more calm.

Those of us who planned to return this summer (4), have already been told that we could have our jobs back again. Unfortunately, none of us have yet to receive a voucher… To top things off, the employers have no control over this matter and cannot request to have certain students hired. This is pretty disappointing for not only us students, but for the organization as well. The organization I worked for taught me so many things to help further my career after graduation, taught me to see the world in a different way, and also allowed me to build strong relationships with both my colleagues and the families – two of which I am still in contact.

To wrap things up, many of us are scared knowing we may not have full-time employment for the summer, without employment we cannot pay our tuition and we now no longer have access to help from the government. How are we supposed to get an education here?

I think many students will agree with me when I say it’s beginning to feel like the province does not care about us, our well-being or our financial struggles. But hey, don’t worry about us, we’re only the future of this province and so far, the future isn’t looking so bright.

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