Douglas College student Jill Griffin, 24, estimates she'll owe $30,000 when she finishes her post-secondary education.
And she's not alone. The average debt in British Columbia, according to the B.C.-branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, is roughly $27,000 for four-year program graduates, who, along with the hefty debt burden, face a dismal job market and a staggeringly high cost of living.
"Students, who are fortunate enough to be able to get into post-secondary education because of loans, come out with astounding amounts of debt," said Griffin, external relations coordinator for the Douglas College student union and a campaign coordinator for the local branch of the Canadian Federation of Students.
The federation is promoting the Rock the Vote, a campaign that encourages young British Columbians to have their concerns heard by voting in the upcoming provincial election on May 14.
For many young people, taking out a loan is the only way to pay for an education, Griffin said.
"I honestly wouldn't be able to afford to get in to post-secondary education without the loan," she said. "Even when working through the summers . you could save up say $600 over summer to go to school, and that would get you one class."
Costs for post-secondary education have been cut over the last several year and been shifted onto the backs of students, she said.
"What we would like to see, and what students would like to see, is increased funding for postsecondary education to help offset the cost, so that costs aren't downloaded off to students year after year, increasing tuition fees," Griffin said.
NDP leader Adrian Dix announced his platform this week, which included a $250-million student-grant program and funding for skills training programs.
B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark's platform promises a one-time grant of $1,200 for parents with kids born after 2007, meant to help families save for post-secondary education.
"The NDP plans to bring in a new grants program, which is good but it still doesn't touch the fact that post-secondary education (funding from the province) keeps getting cut," Griffin said.
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