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ERIC Number: ED529946
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Beyond the Sticker Shock 2008: A Closer Look at Canadian Tuition Fees. An EPI Policy Paper
Usher, Alex; Duncan, Patrick
Educational Policy Institute (NJ1)
In 2006 the Educational Policy Institute released the first edition of "Beyond the Sticker Price: A Closer Look at Canadian University Tuition Fees." The report presented a new way by which to look at the prices and costs associated with university tuition, an alternative to the annual tuition fee report produced by Statistics Canada which more accurately reflects what students and their families actually pay in tuition fees once all various subsidies are taken into account. The purpose of this paper is to build upon the research and analysis conducted for this paper's original release. This paper presents available data from a ten year period, from 1997-98 to 2007-08 and look at real changes in tuition fees, educational tax credits and tax rebate programs over that period. Of particular importance in this paper is the effect of the introduction of new tax rebate programs in four provinces since the last report. These programs have reduced the net cost of education substantially, particularly in Manitoba and New Brunswick. This new data will permit the authors to generate some alternative calculations of net tuition which are substantially more accurate as measures of cost than the simple tuition fee data. These measures, in turn, will permit them to see precisely how changing government policies on education tax credits and programs are affecting the people who receive them. The authors' brief excursion into calculating real costs for students revealed the following: (1) Education tax credits, which act as a kind of tuition rebate, have expanded by over 45 percent nationally over the past decade on a per-student basis; (2) Taking both inflation and tax credits into account, real "net tuition" is up by just 19 percent since 1997-98; (3) Since 1999-2000, the growth in tax credits has more than offset the growth in real tuition. Nationally, once tax credits are taken into account, "net tuition" has only increased 8 percent in the last 8 years; and (4) Very generous tax rebate programs recently introduced in four provinces have seen the "net tuition" figures, once adjusted for these rebates, decrease by as much as 102 percent. At the national level, taking these into account, tuition has actually fallen over the last eight years. One of the key concepts in this paper is that there is more than one way to measure "net tuition". Governments wishing to pay attention to affordability and accessibility need to pay more attention to these differences. It is possible--by ignoring tax credits and rebates completely--to make a case that net tuition costs in Canada are increasing. A more reasonable interpretation of the data presented here is that tuition is anything but out of control, and that tax credits in most of the country are more than offsetting tuition. (Contains 8 tables and 3 footnotes.) [For the first edition of this report, "Beyond the Sticker Price: A Closer Look at Canadian University Tuition Fees," see ED499854.]
Educational Policy Institute. 6900 Wisconsin Avenue Suite 606, Bethesda, MD 20815. Tel: 202-657-5207; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Educational Policy Institute
Identifiers - Location: Canada