Queen's University — Since 1873
16th February 2012

Stop digging

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This semester marks the first opportunity to receive the 30 per cent off Ontario tuition grant — a promise the Liberals made this fall in provincial elections.

If you’re one of the students who received the rebate last week, congratulations. The newly-published Drummond Report calls for the cancellation of the Ontario tuition grant, so it’s important to take advantage of this opportunity and spend the money wisely.

Don’t blow your 30 per cent rebate on something frivolous.

At Queen’s, students had to pay tuition in full by Sept. 1, so the tuition rebate will mean a sudden excess of funds. If you’re an impulse spender, think over the various options where you can spend your money.

The most responsible choice is to use the rebate money to pay down the debt you already have. If you have a credit card that’s maxed out or beyond, this quick influx of cash is a great opportunity to pay down debt before it accumulates.

Interest on a Classic Visa Card for students is 19.99 per cent per month, so it’s best to pay down any debt you have as fast as possible. A small purchase can add up after being compounded for a few months.

Paying down a loan from OSAP may seem like a good idea but if you’re in credit card debt, that should be first priority. OSAP loans have a low interest rate compared to credit cards, and have a six-month grace period after graduation where interest doesn’t accumulate.

It may be tempting to spend your newfound cash on a gadget, like an iPad or a new laptop, but these can have a hefty price tag. However, if your current setup is out of date or if you want something more portable, this might be a good opportunity to make the switch.

If you’re inclined to spend the money on a trip somewhere, it’s worth reconsidering. While trips can be a lot of fun, and a well-deserved break from school life, they’re not financially justifiable if you’re holding debt.

Taking a trip to visit a prospective graduate school could be a good decision, but if it’s for pleasure, rethink your options.

Paying off a credit card isn’t as exciting as an iPad or a vacation getaway, but when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you have to do is stop digging. Let’s show the provincial government that the Ontario tuition grant is an advantage to students and not an excuse to waste money.

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