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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Student financial aid in Canada : a critique Wallsmith, Courtney Michelle


Data from the Survey of Financial Security 2005 are used in this study to analyze student loan debt and to compare student loan debtors and their resulting debt-return ratios across different variables such as sex, age, region, income and programme of study. This study hypothesizes that the student financial aid programme in Canada is inefficient and inequitable. It is inefficient not only because of its complexity, but because student loan borrowers are unable to repay their loan debt in a timely fashion with the income they receive after graduation. It is inequitable because it is untargeted and focused on tax-based assistance rather than needs-based assistance, and because student loan debt differs for students of different age, sex, programme of study and region. Simple econometric methods are used to test this hypothesis and the results show a modicum of support for the hypotheses. Student loan debt and the debt-return ratio tend to differ depending on sex, age, region, income and education programme. As a supplement, this study also describes the financial aid system and discusses its problems. It further explains why education is important to both the individual and society as a whole and why access to an efficient and equitable system of financial aid is important in terms of John Rawls’ theory of justice. Finally, this paper provides some solutions to the financial aid system’s problems.

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