Jaron Rykiss, UMSU president
“The Manitoba government is currently in the process of integrating the administration of the
Manitoba Student Aid (MSA) program with the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program (CSFA
Program). This means that Manitoba student loans will be managed by the National Student Loans
Service Centre (NSLSC). The planned changes to the administration of student loans will be effective
July 4, 2022. Note that existing loans will be managed by MSA until April 2023.”
July 18, 2022. Wpg, MB – Last week on July 13th, the Manitoba Government announced they are
implementing changes to the Student Aid Regulation to streamline the student loan process. The
government will essentially phase out Manitoba Student Aid until it becomes an integrated entity with the
Federal Government’s loan system. This amalgamation is said to “enhance disability provisions for students
and borrowers”, “reduce red tape and the administrative burdens”, and expand “self-service options”.
As the representative of the University of Manitoba undergraduate student body, I want to express that we
are wholly in support of such an effort. Being a student, especially in 2022, is just plain expensive. Books,
course registration, administrative fees, living costs, housing costs, and more, all add up to create quite the
bill that students are expected to foot.
UMSU wants to support the effort to reduce student financial stressors, but we are unsure if this shift to
streamline student loans will be successful in such a goal. Students are currently confused as to why the
provincial and federal loan procedures will be combined. At no point did UMSU or MAPSS receive
consultation or a request for perspective on such an action, and we are unsure whether the
actions presented by the Manitoba Government actually benefit students. We assume the best of intentions,
any attempt to reduce student stressors is fantastic, yet we are unaware of exactly how this will play out in
the long run.
We have certain considerations around the language used on their information page. Specifically, that the
writing was crafted carefully to open a door for financial claw backs toward the student population:
“Effective April 2021, the Government of Canada has temporarily eliminated interest on Canada
Student Loans. Therefore, the current interest rate for both the Manitoba Student Loan and Canada
Student Loan is 0%. The interest rate on Manitoba Student Loans is not changing at this time. If
Manitoba and Canada have differing interest rates on their student loans in the future, Manitoba’s
interest rate will apply to the Manitoba portion of integrated loans and Canada’s interest rate
will apply to the Canada portion of integrated loans.”
This policy/administrative change might signal an avenue for the province to introduce interest on student
loans – an action which would follow the trend of trying to make post-secondary education more
profitable. Unfortunately, do take this to partly mean the government is exploring the idea of
implementing interest on provincial loans. There is no guarantee anywhere that Manitoban interest rates
will remain at 0%, only that they will take precedence over the federal ones.
Again, we recognize the validity of changing to reduce redundancies and streamline processes for students,
however, we are left with many questions. There are benefits spoken about, but we see no guarantee that
students won’t be left with an even bigger cheque.
At the end of the day, all we want from the government here is to ensure true openness and transparency.
We are curious to know about the decisions that affect our students’ livelihoods. Not only for the current
students of Manitoba, but for future generations who will need access to loans for post-secondary
All students have enough of a burden to be worried about a confusing and unclear shift in their loans. And
we hope that the Manitoba Government continues to see the value and human kindness in keeping 0%
Further than this, streamlining would take away a provincial arm that is valued by many, and we wonder if
it would be more beneficial to fund Manitoba Student Aid further; to make a strong provincial entity that
responds to Manitoban needs, rather than uploading responsibility to the Federal government which is
harder to reach and is less accommodating to specific provincial needs.
In the end, we are happy to be consulted by the government on issues that affect the broad student
population. However, we are responsible first and foremost to our students, and we hope the government
shares that same care and responsibility.
All the best,
Link – Official Press Release & FAQ page
• Manitoba Government Implements Regulatory Changes Streamline student loan process
• Canada Manitoba Integration Project – FAQ