Let’s just count up all there is out there, shall we? Just for fun.
There’s loans, obviously. In 2010-11, there was a little under $4 billion of those. Of that, however, about half a billion was forgiven through loan remission, meaning that “Net Loans” – was about $3.5 billion. On top of that, there was about another $1.3 billion in up-front grants given out that year (roughly half from the feds, half from the provinces).
(How do I know this, you ask? Because I’ve been doing surveys of provincial and federal student loans for over 10 years. I have a database. Well, CMEC technically owns it, but you know what I mean.)
Government Student Aid by Type, Canada 1993-94 to 2010-11, in ‘000s of $2011
Then there are the various federal and provincial tax credits for tuition, plus the education and textbook credits. These are calculated by using CRA taxfiler data (most recent years available here) to see how many credits have been claimed, and then multiplying out by federal and provincial tax rates to calculate the value of the credits claimed. Altogether, that’s another $2.3 billion going to students and families for higher education (roughly two-thirds of it from Ottawa).
Canada Education Savings Grant? Canada Learning Bond? Another $700 million, or so, combined. Then throw on another $350 million for provincial merit grants and tri-council scholarships. All told, that $5.13 billion in non-repayable aid given out each year (call it $4.4 billion if you want to exclude the CESG/CLB, which, after all, is for future students), plus another $3.5 billion in loans. Total? $8.6 billion in assistance, only 40% of which is loans.
But wait! We’re not finished here. According to the annual Canadian Association of University Business Officers/Statscan Financial Survey, universities collectively gave out just over $1.5 billion in scholarships. Toss in another $350 million or so in First Nations’ Band Funding under the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, and we’re up to $10.6 billion in aid going to individuals each year, fully $7 billion of which is non-repayable. And that was three years ago. It’s gone up since then by maybe another $300 million, all told (mostly driven by Ontario’s 30%-off tuition grant, and increased institutional spending on scholarships).
$7.3 billion – or even the $6.6 billion if you don’t want to include the CESG/CLB stuff – is a heck of a lot of money. It’s almost the size of the entire budget for the province of Newfoundland. It’s more money than governments spend on our entire national college system. And it all goes to students. And it’s all non-repayable.
How about that?
An interesting question is: how does this figure stack up when compared to how much students pay in tuition? Tune in tomorrow.