LGBTQ+ Students Have Higher Student Loan Debt than Average

The KSA queer representative identifies resources to alleviate this financial burden

(Flickr/ Tax Credits, modified by Kristen Frier)

A recent poll conducted by Forum Research shows that 48 per cent of the LGBTQ+ community left post-secondary education with up to $10,000 in debt. This means that their debt is on average more than 15 per cent higher than the rest of the student and recent graduate population.

“It’s interesting to note that almost half (46 per cent) of respondents who are members of the LGBTQ2SIAP+ community said they left school in the 2010s, compared to only a quarter (24 per cent) of non-members,” says Gary Milakovic, an analyst with Forum Research. “It may suggest that a larger proportion of the community members that are younger haven’t had as much time to pay off their loans because they left school more recently.”

The 1,163 students who participated in the survey were randomly chosen from a selection of Canadians 16 and older who had attended a post-secondary institution. One in five of these people took eight or more years to pay off their student debt and one in 10 will be debt-free within a year, according to Forum Research.

This poll is believed to be the first one in Canada to ask about sexual orientation in a survey on student debt, according to Isabel Teotonio of The Star. Unfortunately, many students are still ostracized for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This, too, can affect the debt that they accumulate.

“This is even more prevalent in cultures where being LGBTQ+ is still taboo or looked down upon, and causes higher debt from student loans or causes them to withdraw from post-secondary altogether,” says Joseph Thorpe, the Kwantlen Student Association Queer Representative. “I think this is even worse for our transgender members who suffer from barriers to employment due to discrimination.”

Finding time to balance school and work can be difficult, but being denied work due to your sexual orientation makes it even harder. Still, the survey found that LGBTQ+ students were more likely to find a second job to pay off their debt than their heterosexual counterparts.   

Students currently enrolled in KPU who are struggling with debt can take advantage of workshops and scholarships offered on campus in addition to considering taking paid positions within KPU.

“Understanding how to save money and budget what you have, if you work, it is a great way to help reduce debt. The KSA is running a workshop on Oct. 25 [for students interested in learning about budgeting],” says Thorpe, who is also the KSA Vice President Finance and Operations. “Additionally, bursaries and scholarships are also a way to help reduce debt as you do not have to pay back the money given to you, so I implore our students to go through KPU awards to apply for what they can.”

Current and future students looking for more information on KPU’s student awards and financial assistance can contact awards@kpu.ca. More information about awards, counselling, and job opportunities are available online. The Kwantlen Student Association’s financial literacy workshop will be held on the Surrey campus on Thursday, Oct. 25 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm in Birch 250.

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