Rising university tuition fee burden squeezing Ontario families: study

August 31, 2011

OTTAWA—Ontario’s system of financing higher education is becoming less equitable and more regressive for families, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

According to the study, if a middle-income Ontario family dedicated every cent of their after-tax earnings towards the cost of their child’s university tuition fees starting on September 1, 2011, they would have to work until March 14, 2012 (195 days) before they paid for a four-year degree.

In 1990, it would have taken the same family only until November 27th, 1990 (87 days). For those students who gain entry into professional programs like medicine or law, it may take a middle-income family over a year of earnings to pay just tuition fees.

“Ontario families are being forced to play priority roulette,” says Erika Shaker, director of the CCPA Education Project. “The trifecta of stagnant incomes, household debt, and rising tuition fees means that families are having to make difficult choices around the kitchen table about what to prioritize: meeting basic expenses, saving for retirement, paying down their debt or sending their kids to university. This hits lower- and middle-income families especially hard.”

The study offers two alternatives to increased downloading onto families.

“The 2009 Ontario corporate tax cut, could have rolled back tuition fees to 1990 levels, representing a reduction in tuition fees from $6,500 to $2,500 a year,” says CCPA research associate David Macdonald.

“If we implemented the reduction through the personal tax system, it would cost an average of $100/year per family to reduce undergraduate tuition fees to 1990 levels. For an annual average of $170 a family, undergraduate university tuition fees could be eliminated altogether. This progressively-administered expenditure represents exceptional value and cost-effectiveness for families who otherwise face increased sacrifices and ever higher debt loads.”


Under Pressure: The impact of rising tuition fees on Ontario families is available on the CCPA website: http://policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.