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Fort McMurray college students given break on loan payments by Alberta Government

Fort McMurray's Keyano College is closed until further notice after the Wood Buffalo area wildfires forced an evacuation

Students who haven't been able to access information about their fall terms with the Fort McMurray college now have less to think about as the government halts the need to pay student loans for six months.

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Students who haven't been able to access information about their fall terms with the Fort McMurray college now have less to think about as the government halts the need to pay student loans for six months.

College students from Fort McMurray’s Keyano College are holding on to one beacon of light as their semesters continue to be clouded with uncertainty after the Wood Buffalo area mandatory evacuation.

On Tuesday, Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt announced Fort McMurray students would have a six-month reprieve from student loan payments as uncertainty about the fall term overwhelms learners.

“I think it's a good response on behalf of Student Loan Alberta,” said Chelsi Ryan, a second year bachelor of education student. “For a lot of us, what fall semester looks like is already a little nerve wracking, which means differed payments and interest gives us a little breathing room.”

Keyano College told its students the campus is closed until further notice. Servers are down, and even applying for fall courses is a struggle. The school has few resources to try and refund students for cancelled classes after their spring term was shut down. Their systems are down and a lot of normal functions, like sending out enrolment confirmation letters, are now impossible.

“For the new graduates, this means finding a job doesn't have to happen right away to keep their payments,” said Ryan. “For myself, it's just one less thing to cross off the list. I've been blessed that rent has been deferred, insurance premiums, and now my student loan payments so I can focus on the essentials right now.

"I have full intentions of finishing this out within Fort McMurray so Alberta loans working with and for students makes that a lot more of a reality with the uncertainty of when we'll be going home.”

The government has also alleviated pressures on students gearing up for post-secondary as another announcement last week confirmed Fort McMurray students are exempt from diploma exams.

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