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Tuition skyrocketing

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 20/03) - Tuition rates for university students rose 7.4 per cent across Canada this year, leaving Northern students scrambling for cash as they return to school this fall.

Post-secondary institutions in British Columbia and Alberta are popular with Northern students, attracting large numbers each fall.

Tuition in both provinces has risen faster than the inflation rate, according to Statistics Canada.

In Alberta students can expect to pay $4,500 for each academic year, up 7.7 per cent from last year.

British Columbia posted the highest increase across the nation, with a 30.4 per cent increase, following last year's 25.7 per cent rise. The province lifted it's six-year tuition freeze in 2002.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province where tuition fees declined for 2003/2004. Charges dropped 4.5 per cent, to $2,606 per academic year.

Yellowknifer Karen Wedel has maximized grants for her first year of school, claiming five scholarships worth over $2,700.

"I didn't think school was going to cost as much as it does," says the 18-year-old about Augustana University College in Camrose, Alta.

Sue Glowach, manager of public affairs for the Department of Education, Culture, and Employment, said Student Financial Services has seen a rise in applications this year.

Applications for financial assistance are up nine per cent, from 1,625 applications last year, to 1773 for the upcoming school year.

Glowach would not comment on whether tuition hikes across Canada caused the increase.

"As more people become interested in being educated, they are going to be applying for assistance," says Glowach.

Glowach is proud of the financial assistance program available to Northern students, making no indication of any changes to the program because of the increase.

Wedel chose a full remissible loan from Student Financial Services (SFA), adding "I don't know what I'd do without SFA."

Wedel will return to Yellowknife to work following her schooling to start paying off her massive debt load.