By Вen Li
Students seeking loans for their education will have a new organization to deal with.
On March 1, administration of the Canada Student Loans program was turned over
to Edulinx, a joint venture service bureau 51 per cent owned by CIBC and 49 per cent own-ed by USA Group.
"The changes to the program were necessitated by the decision of a number of the financial institutions to withdraw from the student loan business," said Director General of Learning and Literacy Thomas Townsend, speaking on behalf of both Edulinx and HRDC. "The government, as a part of its commitment to the program, took over the issuing of the loans directly."
The government will continue to provide the money which Edulinx will now distribute. New federal loans will be repaid to Edulinx, while the loans will be adjudicated by the government according to unchanged eligibility criteria.
"What we want to do is minimize disruption for student borrowers so that the initial parts of the student loan process are identical to what they have been in the past," said Townsend.
Students will still have to complete the application and obtain the confirmation of enrolment, while the adjudication and loan awards processes have not changed.
Instead of taking the loan certificate with confirmation of enrolment to a bank, students must now deliver the documents to a Canada Post outlet, which will then forward the application to a processing centre the next day. Funds will be available by cheque or direct-deposit within a week of sending the application.
The HRDC requested that student groups including CASA, CFS and other post-secondary education organizations monitor and report the success of the revised program.
"We received a request March 1 from HRDC to help them look for bugs in the system," said CASA Communications Coordinator Kieran Green. "From this point on, when a student goes to apply for a student loan, if they have any problems or can’t get the information they need, we want students to report to us and either we will take it directly to the HRDC or we will put the student in touch with the relevant people at HRDC."
The U of C’s Students’ Union, a member of CASA, will work on reporting any difficulties to CASA.
"Our position is to monitor the situation," said SU Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek. "It’s not really our role to go out there and actively inform students. The government is doing that and they’re doing it very well."