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Regular reader ant6n crunches us some numbers on the tuition issue.
ant6n, Joey, paul, and 5 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
ant6n will make a fabulous fonctionnaire one day. I’m not disputing his/her data, but his/her ability to make the numbers say exactly what he/she wants is something that all corrupt regimes have a need for. I guess that university degree was worth something after all, huh?
@ mdblog. Since we’re making straw man arguments approaching Reductio ad Hitlerum, I’m gonna invoke the rules of Godwin’s law and say you’ve automatically lost whatever point you were trying to make.
[meta]Now someone post some unfounded insinuations about me too![/meta]
@steph, ad Hitlerum? Grow up.
The point about minimum wage is a red herring. The relevant information is what people actually earn, not the level of a state-legislated price floor that merely prices unskilled labour out of the market. Anyone who thinks that this is interesting data should ask him or herself whether we could solve the problem by increasing the minimum wage to, say, $5,000 an hour. Voila, you barely need to work at all any more to pay your tuition!
Go to school pay off your loans and minimum wage will be a distant memory.
Keep protesting, drop out of school and minimum wage will be all you will see.
Time to end this banality…
A well done piece. I don’t see anything hear that is untruthful or misleading. The cost of university has certainly gone up here over the last few decades. It’s still a little like running riot because the cost of hamburgers has gone from 35 cents to 50 cents when everyone else is paying 3 bucks. There is just nothing here that would justify the behavior we are seeing.
What’s absent is a full accounting of price: tuition and ancillary fees on one side and tax credits and bursaries on the other. Quebec students get a tax credit for tuition that is worth 35% of the amount they pay in tuition and fees (20% from the province and 15% from the feds), plus an amount for every month of study (e.g., a full-time student would get a tax credit worth $480) from Ottawa.
If you paid $3000 in tuition and fees last year, you would have received a tax credit worth $1,530, bringing your net price down to $1,470. Add on the $450M the province spends on bursaries (not all of it to university students, to be clear) and the substantial money spent on university student aid/scholarships and you get a much fuller picture of what it actually costs to be a student.
A PhD student at UofT named Andrew Bird has factored in tax credits and institutional financial aid into calculations about the students’ share of university costs (tuition & fees). He found it averages in Quebec about 1%, far from the 12% figure bandied about by the press and the government. The data don’t allow us to go back in time and figure out what things were like in the late 60s or mid-70s, but I would be surprised if the student contribution were lower than 1% then.
What is also missing is an analysis of the statistics regarding basic university costs. How have teacher and administrator costs risen? I know for a fact that construction/building maintenance costs have skyrocketed in the past 20 years alone.
I think if those other costs remained static, raising tuition would be a moot point.
We need to remember that these tuition increases are due to a lack of funding for universities, due primarily to rising costs – not necessarily mismanagement.
This is a very complicated issue. Yes there exist tax credits, but students don’t pay taxes (they’re too poor), so they won’t benefit from them until they start making real money much later (Note that tax credits exist only on the actual tuition, not the fees; also, did you calculate 8 months of full time study for the federal amount, rather than 12?). There also exist gov’t bursaries and aid and loans, but again how do you measure whether people can actually rely on that, rather than be denied aid because your parents are too rich or something like that? Are your bursaries taken away if you work, because you can’t pay you bills? Would you sue your parents for money? Also, How much of the gov’t aid comes as debt?
Consider that the majority of the money students have comes through work (http://cupwire.ca/articles/38179). And that’s actually bad – it’s been shown that even doing 15 hours of work per week during full time studies noticeably impacts academic performance.
There exist scholarships and aid coming from the universities as well. But they tend to give scholarships based on merit, which is not a reliable source of funding; Financial aid comes in bursaries, but they like to give aid as half bursary, half debt. And their aid is especially vulnerable to abuse.
Of course in my calculation I also didn’t show numbers that go against students: The crazy increases in book costs; the crazy increases in institutional costs (which together eat up your tax credits right there, only you don’t get those tax credits until years later). To get such a detailed idea of all these different issues coming together, you’d have to make a full audit on thousands of students over several years. Or you could look at what comes out at the end — debt. And that’s also on the rise.
The overall point I was trying to make is that tuition is _not_ at the lowest levels in decades right now. I wanted to clear up a basic misconception about costs of education during the last 30 years.
@paul Three-quarters of university costs are faculty salary, and faculty unions have done a good job of negotiating annual increases above inflation over and above increases due to “rising through the ranks.” There’s your problem in a nutshell.
@ant6n True enough. The point about tax credits is that, even though they are regressive and inefficient, they can’t be ignored. Since the late 1990s the federal and provincial governments have decided that the tax system would be a major way of helping families pay for their education – remember that students can and do transfer their unusable credits to parents all the time. Think of it as a BS reward for the middle class for sending kids to university. And it clocks in at about $2 billion a year across the country. Useful or not, tax credits must be part of any credible exercise looking at university affordability in Canada.
True. Although you could approximately offset the tuition credits with rising costs of institutional fees and books.
You know, I paid international tuition, so racked up crazy amounts of tuition credits, in the order of 20K which I don’t have to pay in taxes over the coming years. While that’s all nice, and a good incentive to stay in Quebec, it didn’t really help me to get the money together to pay for my education in the first place.
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