To the Editor:

I read with interest your interview with Principal Shapiro (Reporter, Sept. 11), and would like to take the opportunity to address the Principal's remarks on income contingent loan repayment plans (ICLRPs). Principal Shapiro states that he likes these plans because "if you owe money, the degree to which you pay it back depends on what your income is later." In other words, if you are a medical doctor you will pay larger monthly payments than if you are a retail sales clerk upon graduation. This sounds great, doesn't it?

Well, there are major problems with ICLRPs. First, they make the concept of high tuition politically palatable the argument goes like this: tuition hikes are no longer a problem because students can get as much money as they need in the form of loans. The evidence for this is clear in every country where ICLRPs have been implemented, fees have risen drastically. If tuition fees increase, indebtedness will increase.

Second, ICLRPs will discriminate against members of constituency groups, such as women, people with disabilities and people of colour. Members of constituency groups, on average, get lower paying jobs upon graduation than do white men. Under the ICLRPs, these graduates will pay less per month on their loan, but will make payments for a longer period of time. Consequently, they will end up paying more for their education than white men because they will pay more interest.

Third, ICLRPs, and increased tuition, will result in compromised access to post-secondary education. Fees will be higher, loans will be larger. The fear of a lifetime of indebtedness will, without a doubt, keep people from the lower social strata from even applying to university.

The final problem with ICLRPs is that the idea sounds too good! Unless one makes the effort to investigate the impact of these schemes, one will think that we have finally found a way to deal with the underfunding of universities and with increased tuition! And unless the electorate is presented with the other side of the coin, ICLRPs and U.S. tuition rates are just around the corner.

In sum, the Principal admits that "when you have to borrow money to pay tuition fees and therefore mortgage your life when you begin it, it's not ideal." But he argues that ICLRPs are an answer to the problem of lifelong indebtedness. However, one need not look very far to see that ICLRPs, if implemented in Canada, will be the cause of, not the answer to, lifetime indebtedness. People who want more information on ICLRPs can contact the PGSS (398-3756).

Anna Kruzynski
University and Academic Affairs Co-ordinator
Post-Graduate Students' Society