Education News – Education pays, debt delays

OTTAWA (CUP) ? Although a post-secondary education can secure a job quicker and with higher pay, getting there still requires an average debt load of tens of thousands.

So says Statistics Canada, which released the National Graduates Survey for 2007 on April 22.

The survey was jointly undertaken by Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and tracked graduates from Canadian public post-secondary institutions for two years.

The study showed that for those working, their education paid off, as earnings rose with each level of education.

?The median annual earnings among those who were working full-time in 2007 was lowest for college graduates at $35,000. This increased to $45,000 for bachelor’s graduates, $60,000 for master’s graduates and $65,000 for doctorate graduates,? reads the study.

The study also showed that ?more than 80 per cent of college and university students who graduated in 2005 and did not pursue further studies had found full-time employment by 2007.?

Despite these employment figures, the study pointed out that ?in 2007, two years after graduation, just over one-quarter of those who owed student debt at the time they graduated had paid it off.?

Indeed, while graduates had lower average debt levels in 2005 than they did in 2000, it was by a small proportion, and debt levels also remain in the tens of thousands. In 2007, doctoral graduates had a $22,500 debt on average, with master’s graduates averaging $19,500, bachelor’s graduates averaging $20,400, and college graduates averaging $11,800.

Even so, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation suggests the study showed post-secondary student debt levels had stabilized. The Foundation cites the survey’s pronouncement that ?between 2000 and 2005, debt levels of university graduates who borrowed for their education decreased by 0.9 per cent, while that of college graduates decreased by 4.5 per cent.?

?We are pleased that this study from Statistics Canada confirms that the Foundation has delivered on its mandate to improve the financial situation of Canadian students,? said Executive Director Norman Riddell.

The Canadian Federation of Students, however, does not see such a rosy picture.

?One in three post-secondary graduates reported difficulty repaying their student loan two years after graduation,? the Federation announced after the study was released.

?This study confirms that there is a very disturbing inequality of access to post-secondary education in Canada,? said CFS chairperson Katherine Giroux-Bougard. ?Students that cannot pay up front are being driven deep into long-term debt.?