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NWT sweetens deal for students, in effort to keep them

Students from the Northwest Territories are being offered improved financial incentives to come home after they leave university.

Education minister Jackson Lafferty announced a range of measures on Thursday that are explicitly designed to help boost the territory’s stagnant population.

“The GNWT … has a target to bring 2,000 people to the territory in the next four years, and [the Department of Education, Culture and Employment] is doing its part to contribute to that strategy through one of our most valuable resources – our students,” Lafferty told the legislature.

Full statement: Jackson Lafferty on student financial assistance

For the next academic year, student financial assistance in the Northwest Territories will include:

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  • Measures to ensure a student’s loan debt is “forgiven faster” than was the case, if they come back to live in the territory
  • A $2,000 “northern bonus”, applied to student loan debt, for any student – whether from the NWT or elsewhere in Canada – who chooses to reside in the NWT
  • A zero percent interest rate for people who come back to live in the NWT after they finish their studies
  • Abandoning the 20-semester funding limit and re-introducing what is called a revolving loan limit, “so students who pay down their loan can access additional funding”

The territory will also increase funding for tuition and books, and has launched an online application for student financial assistance that the minister says will “make the program more accessible to NWT residents”.

Bolstering the territory’s population has been a key recent priority of the McLeod government. It’s seen as a way to reinvigorate the economy by increasing the workforce – and the value of annual, population-based payments from the federal government.

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