Current and future post-secondary students could tap into a $57.2-million pot of annual grants, credits and tuition rebates if Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard becomes premier.

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Current and future post-secondary students could tap into a $57.2-million pot of annual grants, credits and tuition rebates if Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard becomes premier.

Gerrard said Tuesday his post-secondary package of promises is "unprecedented in the history of Manitoba. We are investing in students in ways that have never been done."

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Gerrard: short on specifics

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Gerrard: short on specifics

Gerrard said the Liberals would cap tuition at the level of inflation.

Unlike the NDP government, which rebates tuition after graduation from university or college, Gerrard said, "There will be an immediate tuition rebate for students who maintain good attendance and good marks."

But Gerrard wasn't ready to put specific numbers on any of his promises. He would not say what marks students would need in order to get a rebate, nor would he say how much of a tuition rebate a student could potentially receive.

There would be an unspecified grant in the first year of a post-secondary education for students who demonstrate leadership, Gerrard said.

Students could begin banking financial credit toward tuition while still in elementary school by performing "well," he said.

He said the program is modelled after tuition credit plans for inner-city elementary school kids developed by University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy and former city councillor John Prystanski of the Westland Foundation. Again, Gerrard would not say how well kids in the school system would have to perform, or how much money they could receive.

The Liberals would give every post-secondary student a free bus pass.

Gerrard said he is not yet ready to discuss what level of operating grants the Liberals would provide to universities and colleges.

The Grits would exempt universities and colleges from paying payroll taxes, which Gerrard speculated would save millions of dollars a year.

The NDP has committed to capping tuition at inflation. Premier Greg Selinger has promised student-aid improvements, including allowing students to earn income and own vehicles during the school year without that affecting their student loan eligibility, and reducing the interest rate on Manitoba student loans to the prime borrowing rate.

The NDP have promised multi-year operating grants, guaranteed to be five per cent each in the next two years. The Tories haven't released their platform yet.

 

nick.martin @freepress.mb.ca