Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You gotta work work!

The internets finally decided to work for me and I was flooded by new school information the other day. I was pretty upset to find out that CIBC has decreased their maximum amount for their professional student line of credit for naturopathic students, from $140,000 to $80,000.

Okay, granted 80 grand is still a lot of money, but when you factor in that tuition is $21,000 each year and this is a 4-year program, I'd like to ask How are students expected to pay for living expenses?? Not to mention the fact that you either need a co-sign for the loan OR you need to be working in the first place. The first time I went in to apply, CIBC expected me to have close to a full-time job in order to get this line of credit. I sat there dumbfounded that they expected me to have a full-time job while in a full-time med school program. I'm sorry... did I miss something? Am I not suppose to sleep? Or am I required to clone myself so that I can work and go to school simultaneously?

A fellow new Torontonian stated something interesting to me the other day. She said that making it in Canada isn't as easy as everyone thinks; that you need to have money to make money. Unfortunately, she has it right.

What do you do when you're a student, not living at home, with transportation expenses (newsflash: a monthly TTC pass costs as much as monthly parking), having to buy healthy groceries so that you can "practice what you preach" and stay healthy? Not to mention that as someone who is intolerant to so many foods (dairy, gluten, corn, msg, and soy - just to name the big ones), I have to eat as natural as possible and eating KD and $3 frozen dinners will literally kill my GI tract.

I have been one of those people that has worked the entire time that I've been in school (since the age of 16... through high school, undergrad and now in med school). Most of the time I've had 3 part time jobs going at once. However, in my 3rd year here at CCNM, I finally crashed. I had a breakdown and realized I couldn't do it anymore. My sanity and my coursework were both suffering and I made the hard decision of having to quit all of my jobs.

Only this month have I realized how crucial it is to have money coming in all the time. I can't rely on money from student loans because you go through it so fast. Living in Toronto is ridiculously expensive, but I've also made decisions on how I want to spend whatever money I have. I'm so happy that my old Honda is finally paid off, but what about rent? And hydro? and phone and internet? And groceries cost money.

I know that graduating with $200,000 of debt isn't ideal - it's the reason why CIBC has changed it's funding amount. Actually it makes me want to cry. But at least I can pay my rent each month. And I never have to worry about not having food.

So the bank decided that students should work even harder and make money to pay for their living expenses. Which is all fine and dandy, until someone realizes that's it's just too damn hard and has a breakdown like me.

Just as I'd like to see Rob Ford bike across Toronto to realize how much we're in need of proper bike lanes, I'd like to see the president of CIBC last a semester at CCNM, keep up with the workload, write 10 midterms, 12 finals, pass all practical sessions and do so with only 1 semester's worth of OSAP (provincial loan) funding and still live to tell the tale. Now multiply that by 9 semesters and tell me how can you live with the fact that you're not granting funding to students who will become naturopathic doctors and help to change the world by encouraging preventative healthcare and alleviating the strain on our current healthcare system.

I'm trying to be positive pig here but this is ridiculous. It's not just our profession, but for any student trying to get an education and a career. Without the start-up costs of tuition and living expenses, where do you see Ontario in 10 years time when NO ONE can afford education anymore?

We need more help for students, especially those who don't qualify for OSAP or who don't have money saved up from their parents. Don't cut off students when they're trying to get into grad school, but encourage them to pursue further education.