Budget 2023: Canada Student Grants are Getting Cut By $1,800 Per Year, Not ‘Enhanced’
Federal Budget uses creative math and confusing language to present an $1,800 cut for lower-income students as an ‘increase’ in support
This week’s federal budget quietly cut the support offered by the Canada Student Grant program, which is designed to support low-income and marginalized students, from a maximum of $6,000 per year to $4,200 per year.
However, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland used creative math and confusing language to present the cut as a $1,200 “increase” in support for struggling students.
With federal budget cuts resulting in tuition increases of over 200% since the 1990s, low-income students have relied on a patchwork of grants to reduce their student debt loads for years.
The Canada Student Grant program provides assistance to full-time students when they apply to the National Student Loan Centre. The budget describes the Grant as an “income-tested support that hardworking, ambitious young people receive when the cost of going to school is out of reach for them and their parents.”
According to an impacts analysis included in the Budget, measures aimed at making life more affordable for students tend to support young women from low and middle-income households.
Currently, CSG’s website informs prospective students that, provided their family income is below the designated cut offs, they are eligible to “receive up to $6,000 per year or up to $750 per month of study” until the end of 2022-2023.
But, the Budget says that’s about to change.
Buried in the 2023 Budget, the federal government indicates it is cutting the Canada Student Grant from $6,000 per year to $3,000 per year, but also simultaneously offering an “enhancement” of $1,200.
In other words, after cutting the grant from $6,000 to $3,000 and adding $1,200, the grant now works out to $4,200 – or, an effective cut of $1,800 per year from what students had been receiving since 2020:
“When COVID-19 disrupted students’ lives, the federal government responded by doubling Canada Student Grants — income-tested support that hardworking, ambitious young people receive when the cost of going to school is out of reach for them and their parents. This meant students could receive up to $6,000 in up-front, non-repayable aid each school year, for three years starting in the 2020-21 school year. This support is currently set to expire on July 31, 2023. But with life costing more and with students still in need of support to afford an education, the government knows it is important that students can afford to pursue their dreams.”
Despite cutting Canada Student Grants by $1,800 per year, the budget describes the cut as “increasing Canada Student Grants by 40 per cent – providing up to $4,200 for full-time students.”
A number of Liberal MPs have already taken to Twitter to misleadingly promote the cut as an “increase”:
We’re increasing Canada Student Grants to $4,200 for full-time students. We’re also ensuring students with disabilities and students with dependents receive an increase in Canada Student Grants to offset extra costs.
— Carla Qualtrough (@CQualtro) March 29, 2023
Our government always has and always will invest in our youth. That is why it was announced today that the budget will include a 40% increase to Canada Student Grants. This new funding will allow more students to be able to learn new skills to build a better and stronger country
— Michael Coteau (@coteau) March 29, 2023
Student groups maintain the Budget is not announcing an increase, it’s announcing a cut.
Riaz Nandan, National Treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Students,says this Budget will make education less accessible for students.
“It is disheartening to see the government continually make cuts to post-secondary education, especially when Canadian students are taking on large amounts of debt to get an education in the hopes of eventually graduating and finding a job that will help them contribute back to the economy,” Nandan told PressProgress.
“We have witnessed the government use post-secondary education as a way to balance budgets, and students should not have to bear an increased debt.”
Elsewhere, the “fiscally responsible” Budget promises to find cuts to other programs by 2026.
Specifically, The budget resolves to“reduce government spending by $7 billion over four years, starting in 2024-25, and $2.4 billion ongoing,” and “work with federal Crown corporations to ensure they achieve comparable spending reductions.”
All told, the budget plans for total cuts of $14.5 billion in public spending.
Neither Finance Canada nor the Ministry of Employment And Social Inclusion responded to requests for comment from PressProgress.
Previously, PressProgress found that the government was quietly penalizing students throughout the pandemic for missing student loan payments – despite claiming otherwise.
Our journalism is powered by readers like you.
We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.
Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.