11/12/2015 12:54 EST | Updated 11/12/2016 00:12 EST

No repayment needed: Manitoba Liberals vow to turn student loans into grants

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Liberals say they will turn the province's portion of student loans into non-repayable grants if the party wins next April's election.

Leader Rana Bokhari says the promise would cost $10 million a year.

She says post-secondary students are graduating with a mountain of debt and often cannot repay loans on a starting salary.

The plan would be to essentially forgive Manitoba's 40 per cent share of Canada Student Loans run by the federal government.

The other 60 per cent would still be repayable to the federal government.

Manitoba's NDP government has already introduced new financial aid for students, such as a recent decision to make all student loans interest-free.

It also offers a 60 per cent income tax rebate for graduates who stay and work in Manitoba, up to a lifetime maximum of $25,000.

The Liberals hold one of 57 legislature seats, but are hoping for a breakthrough in next year's election. They have been buoyed by opinion polls that suggest the party has nearly tripled its support.

The Canadian Press