MacDonald: Liberals may give with one hand, take with the other from post-secondary students

March 28, 2014

(Halifax, NS) NDP Leader and Advanced Education critic Maureen MacDonald is concerned the Liberals may be giving with one hand and taking away with the other hand from post-secondary students and graduates.

“Today the Liberals announced graduates will no longer have to pay interest on their provincial student loans, a total savings of about $800 per graduate. However, today the Liberals also said that a program worth as much as $15,000 to Nova Scotia graduates isn’t working well and is being reviewed,” said MacDonald.

“My fear is that the Liberals will cut the Graduate Retention Rebate in order to pay for their announcement today and there won’t be a net benefit to students at all, there will be a loss.”

The Graduate Retention Rebate, first introduced in 2009, allows university graduates to reduce their Nova Scotia income taxes by a maximum of $2,500 per year in the year of graduation and in each of the next five years to a maximum of $15,000 over the six-year period.

For students who complete diploma or certificate programs the Graduate Retention Rebate provides a tax credit worth a maximum of $1,250 per year, totaling a maximum of $7,500 over the six-year period. Graduates must be a resident of Nova Scotia, filing a Nova Scotia tax return to receive the rebate.

Today Finance Minister Diana Whalen today said the program is one of many being reviewed by the Liberal government as they look to increase their revenue flow. Whalen said she’s not a fan of the program but wouldn’t confirm whether or not it may be axed next week during the presentation of the budget or later as part of the sweeping tax review currently underway.

According to Minister Whalen, the Graduate Retention Rebate program costs the Province roughly $50 million per year with more people accessing the program every year. The Liberals estimate the cost of their new interest rebate to students at $1.6 million per year.

“At a time when we are facing challenges from outmigration it is important to treat our students well and encourage them to stay in Nova Scotia and I hope the Liberal government will continue to do that.”