Emily 23

With a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Arts Management degree, I had high hopes for my future. After 5 years of post-secondary education, I'm struggling to find a full-time job in my field. The fact that I won’t be able to pay back my OSAP and Student Line of Credit in 7 years is too overwhelming. I get depressed and feel sick to my stomach just thinking about how much I have to pay off, while someone younger than me will be able to get free education. I am $69,000 in debt. $49,000 is owed to OSAP and $20,000 to my bank. There is a 7.5% floating interest rate on the federal portion of my OSAP, and so the government expects me and others to pay back $500-$1000 a month with this current interest rate on top of paying back a student line of credit.

The worst part of this, I can't even afford health insurance. I have to pay two separate loan companies starting 2017, and therefore must risk having no health insurance. The current budget proposes that if you don't make $25,000 in a year, you do not have to pay off your student loans. However, did the government stop to think how much the cost of living has gone up? What if someone didn't live with their parents and had to be able to afford a $700 - $1,000+ apartment. This person would have to make $1,500-$2,000 a month to afford utilities, food and transit fares. Already that is seriously close to the $25,000 limit, and these individuals don’t have enough to make an adequate lump sum towards their loans. Starting positions don’t offer 45k salaries, especially not to graduates who have less than 3 years of job experience under their belt. Working 4 part-time jobs (if you can even find or juggle 4 part-time jobs) that offer only 1-2 shifts a week each doesn’t make ends meet either, but the government and the economy are leaving me with no other alternatives. Has the government stopped and thought about what hydro in Ontario now costs for those not living with their parents? Has the government stopped and thought about the people who are going to be supporting the economy in just a few years as we take on this enormous debt that is crucifying our chances of success?

My generation is being left in the dark, with no jobs, no housing, and no future for financial stability. We are being coerced into poverty. Following this path will only lead to more inequality. 

As one voice in the crowd of many who share my concerns, I would appreciate it if I didn't have to pay an interest rate that is higher than what banks charge for mortgages, ordinary loans, and student lines of credit. Federal student loan interest rates should drop to 0% as an accommodation for those who have to pay it all back. These Loan Sharks need to stop!

If I didn't have student loans, I would save my money for my future. I would start up my own inclusive arts and music education studio for my community. I would save to be able to afford a vacation, an electric car, a house, a pet, and health insurance. If I didn't have student loans, I wouldn't suffer from fears of not being able to look after myself and becoming homeless. I don't want to look back on my 20s and remember being forced into poverty, and not having equal opportunities to grow and flourish in Canada. 

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