Lifelong Learning

Replace University Tuition Fees with a Graduate Tax

A graduate tax is a method of financing higher education. Students attending publicly funded universities and community colleges in Ontario are charged tuition fees directly by the universities. The amount of the fees is limited by law and the fees can be funded by government-backed student loans issued by a government-backed company and/or private banks. The student loans typically need to be repaid shortly after the graduate is finished their studies - but as most graduates cannot afford to pay off the students loans for many years - or even decades given the current nature of precarious employment such as part-time jobs and contract positions which are increasingly the norm in all fields - they typically end up paying off the original student loans many times over with the applied interest rate. Regardless of whether or not students utilize student loans or not - they are forced to pay for their tuition fees upfront before they can even begin their classes.

 

I propose that all publicly funded Ontario universities and community colleges instead embrace a graduate tax - whereby all tuition fees are initially waved - and all courses as well as their required materials are free at the point of use - but where only those students who have successfully graduated from their programme of choice are then required to begin repaying the tuition fees - totally free of interest - after an initial grace period of one or two years - until they can secure employment. Some sort of interest free repayment plan for this graduate tax would be agreed upon prior to the students beginning their university or community college studies - and

of course contingent upon them both being accepted into their programme of choice as well as successfully graduating from it.

 

The graduate tax option would remove the burden of university and community college students having to a) come up with expensive tuition fees and paying for support materials BEFORE their classes begin; and b) having in many, if not most cases, having to take on high interest student loans to pay for their tuition fees and support materials which quite often dooms them to a lifetime of debt.

 

I believe that an interest free graduate tax should also be accompanied by a deep and permanent post-secondary tuition fee reduction. If we cannot make university and community college totally free at the point of use as they do in most European countries - paid from public taxes - then an interest free graduate tax is surely the next best thing.

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Idea No. 488