Some provincial governments are taking notice of and responding to growing public concern over student debt loads, economic and employment uncertainty, and the long-term ramifications being felt by students and their families.
These responses have not resulted in across-the-board fee reductions; provincial governments have largely preferred to go the route of directed assistance measures, either before (two-tiered fee structures or nearly-universal target- ed grants or bursaries) or after-the-fact (tax credits, debt caps and loans forgiveness) directed at in-province students as part of a retention strategy, and to mitigate the poor optics of kids being priced out of their local universities. While this does
impact in-province affordability, it undermines any commitment to universality because it creates a situation where the only students who leave the province to pursue a degree are the ones who can afford to.
The increasing number of exceptions and qualifiers makes the system of university finance far more difficult to navigate, and makes it harder to com- pare provincial policies. Additionally, the system becomes much more un- predictable. Financial assistance applied in this manner is anything but certain; programs can change or be eliminated at any time, while the only thing students can be relatively certain of is that fees will likely continue to increase.