Province announces tuition relief program for middle class

New Brunswick's premier says a new grant program will offer tuition relief to middle class students.

Premier Brian Gallant announced the "Tuition Relief for the Middle Class" program during a news conference at St. Thomas University in Fredericton on Thursday.

Starting in August, New Brunswick students enrolled at a publicly funded university or college and have an annual household income of more than $60,000 will be eligible for non-repayable bursaries to cover up to 98 per cent of their tuition.

"This new financial assistance program will help more students and continues to focus on making it easier for low and middle income students to attend post-secondary institutions in New Brunswick," said Gallant.

The amount of bursaries will depend on the size of the family, and will decrease as the student's family income increases, until they reach the cut-off.

The cut-off is $75,000 for a family of one or two people, $90,000 for a family of three people, $100,000 for a family of four people, $108,500 for a family of five people, $116,500 for a family of six people, and $123,500 for a family of seven people or more.

Last July, the Gallant government announced it would provide free tuition for students who have an annual household income of $60,000 or less.

Students must be attending a publicly funded university or college in New Brunswick to be eligible for the grants.

The province expects the two programs will help up to 70 per cent of students.

Gallant also announced Thursday that the province will provide health care coverage to international students enrolled at New Brunswick universities and community colleges.

"Many post-secondary education institutions in Canada face significant enrolment challenges moving forward," he said.

"By offering the Free Tuition and the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class to New Brunswickers attending a public university or college in New Brunswick and by making us more competitive when it comes to recruiting international students we are curbing enrolment challenges and helping our universities and colleges recruit students."

Students who apply for the student financial assistance program will automatically be assessed for the programs.

Applications for the 2017-18 school year are expected to be available by June 1.