POLITICS

Harper: Student Loans Available For Courses Lasting At Least 34 Weeks

04/07/2015 02:33 EDT | Updated 06/07/2015 05:59 EDT
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. - People training for jobs such as a forestry technician, home inspector and paralegal will become eligible for federal grants after a change to student loans criteria kicks in next year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the government will lower its requirements for financial assistance by allowing people to apply if their post-secondary programs last a minimum of 34 weeks.

Under the current Canada Student Grants program, pupils must be in school at least 60 weeks.

Harper told a packed gymnasium at a North Vancouver secondary school on Tuesday that money should not be a barrier for promising students to obtain training.

"We believe this will provide opportunity and change lives," said Harper, standing in front of a backdrop of teenagers sitting on bleachers.

"(The change) will open the door to success in well-paying jobs for tens of thousands of Canadians ... in many sectors of the economy."

The government projects that the new Canada Student Grants program will benefit about 42,000 more students every year.

Harper said the change is also meant to help older Canadians make themselves more employable, such as mothers returning to the work force or people deciding to switch careers.

Diana Wilson, a mother of three, is enrolled in the education assistant program at Vancouver's Langara College learning to help children with special needs. She told the event after Harper spoke that she decided to return to school rather than continue to work various part-time jobs.

"I never thought I'd go back to school after 25 years, but it's been a wonderful experience," she said. "With this support, transitioning to a new job should be much easier."

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