Jessica, 34

I consider myself to be an academic worker in Ontario's failing "knowledge economy" in which the Ontario government refuses to abolish interest on student loans--or to address the precarity of those who pursue graduate-level education in Ontario and have completed the multiple degrees required to work in the university sector. My debt upon graduation for my BA was just under $27,000. I went on to complete an MA, and then a PhD, which I have not been able to complete for a variety of reasons--including a lack of post-residency fees for PhD Candidates at my university. While the money I borrowed from BA to PhD has totalled over $65,000, through the course of my degrees I have encountered numerous colleagues whose total debt was close to $90,000. During my PhD I required an unforeseen medical leave that was approved by my university. Rather than be permitted to keep my loans frozen during a time of extreme financial instability, my loans went into repayment. Although I fully intended to return to my PhD, there was no status in the OSAP system for students on medical leave. For OSAP, I was either in or I was out. There was no middle ground to address situations of medical emergency. I currently have part-time PhD status due to medical reasons, which means I am being charged $3.77 a day in interest, even though I am still completing my PhD and submitted medical documentation to my university confirming my need for part-time status. Because of my decision to purse the level of education required to become a university professor, my income levels over the years have been so low that I now have over $100, 000 in education tax credits that I have never been able to use. Turning these tax credits into loan-reduction grants would be a far more effective means of supporting low-income students during their degrees. I grew up in a single parent household in which my sole parent could not financially support my academic pursuits and am deeply troubled by the fact that the new changes to the OSAP system by the Liberal government only address students that will be going into university in the future--while offering nothing in the form of debt relief grants to graduates who have already accumulated thousands of dollars in debt.

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