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News Release

Ontario College Students Want Improved Financial Aid System, Transfer to University, Student Survey Finds

For Immediate Release - December 17, 2004

Toronto, ON - The Ontario government must ensure that students are receiving the money they need to go to college, and qualified students are given the opportunity to continue their studies at the university level, the College Student Alliance said today.

Today, the College Student Alliance released the results of its province-wide college student survey that was conducted from late October until mid-November. With the assistance of Canvote.ca, over 6,900 independently verified, current college students responded to the survey, with representation
from almost every college in the province.

"We were concerned that students were not aware of the Rae Postsecondary Review and we wanted to do our part to engage as many students as possible. We wanted to find out how college students currently in the system were feeling on issues that are important to them," said Justin Falconer, President of the Alliance.

Key results from the survey were:

- 60% of those surveyed had debt in addition to their Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan
- 65% felt their fees were too high
- 56% are currently having difficulty paying for their education
- 72% supported the current system of debt relief verses a "go now, play later" system
- 6% strongly felt the OSAP was meeting their needs
- 34% intended to pursue a university education after college
- 90% felt college was providing them with the skills they wanted

The high percentage of students having difficulty paying for their education and having to borrow from other loan sources was no surprise. The maximum loan limit for a single student with no dependants has been frozen at $9,350 since 1994. According to the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, in 2001-2002, 63% of students receiving an OSAP loan had an average shortfall of $3,070 for that academic year.

"The numbers and student opinion show that if the government is serious about providing a postsecondary system that is accessible, they must provide students with the money they need while they are in school, without burdening them with a lifetime of debt," added Falconer.

In addition to an improved financial aid system, the government must make the recognition of prior learning - especially from credits earned in the Ontario college system - a priority.

"We have university admission officers asking college graduates for their high school marks, completely disregarding the skills and learning achieved while in college. With only 27% of current students ruling out the possibility of attending university in the future, Ontario needs to commit to building a stronger transfer system period," added Falconer.

Complete survey results, as well as the Alliance's submission to the Rae review, can be found at www.raereview.com; a website developed and managed by the Alliance.

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The Alliance has proudly served Ontario colleges since 1967. With 25 councils and 110,000 full-time members, it continues to be the strongest college focused student organization in Canada.

For further information: Please contact:
Jon Olinski - Director of Advocacy,
Cell: (416)346-9956,
Office: (416)340-1212
E-mail: olinski@csaontario.org

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