Higher income equals higher education

Report links wealth with post-secondary participation

TORONTO (CUP) – Students from high-income families have significantly higher chances of getting a post-secondary education, a recent StatsCan report shows.

The survey documents an 83 per cent participation rate for students whose families earn an income over $80,000 – a stark comparison to families earning less than $55,000; only 55 per cent of youth from these families moved on to some form of post-secondary education.

Lynn Barr-Tellford, a Statistics Canada official, explained the study looked at variables including access to post-secondary education, duration of studies and how the students pay for their education.

Barr-Tellford said they looked at all aspects of where students were obtaining money to pay for their education.

Participation levels in Ontario are particularly low. Including tuition, students in this province need to spend an average of $14,512 per year – considerably higher than the national average of $11,200. For Adam Spence, Ontario University Student Association executive director, this figure is a serious barrier for lower income families.

“That’s a pretty telling contrast of numbers, so the cost of education is more, people are having to spend more on their education to get more through loans, and these loans are more and more becoming private loans at a greater rate for Ontario students,” said Spence.

Spence explained private loans have become increasingly popular among students in Ontario. 30 per cent of students in this province sought help through private loans, while the national average is 14 per cent.

With the increasing demand for outside assistance, a more “selective and well-off” student will have a better chance of obtaining a university education than someone from a middle class background, he said.

“People who have more money and come from more affluent families are more likely to go to university,” said Spence.

Jeff La Porte, OUSA’s president, says the government needs to ensure that students from middle income families will qualify to receive loans.

“The middle-income bracket aren’t getting [loans] because their parents can afford to send them to school, but [the provincial government] doesn’t see that the parents have mortgages and bills,” La Porte said.

The provincial government’s expectations of students don’t add up, La Porte continued.

Ian Boyko, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, said the study reveals that the cost of post-secondary education has become an insurmountable obstacle for thousands of families.

“Without a national system of needs-based grants and significant reductions in tuition fees, our public system of higher education is becoming more elitist every year,” he said in a release.

The first results of the report, tilted Access, Persistence, and Planning, can be found at

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