Fragmented Perceptions: A Consideration of Canada Student Loan Borrowers’ Views on Loan Repayment and Default

Lay Summary 

Despite serious problems at both the level of philosophy and that of practice, policy analysts across Canada continue to applaud the federal government’s student loan initiatives, arguing, for instance, that “borrowing remains at reasonable levels and repayment difficulties are still relatively uncommon” (Finnie 2002, 156). The generally empirical and econometric analyses of the borrowing and repayment patterns of university students offered by these professionals are characteristically meticulously defined and fastidiously coordinated. The “evidence” they offer, however, often relies too heavily on the limited manner in which they make their numbers speak.

This paper explores the emotional and subjective elements of a small group’s financial life-worlds and how these borrowers’ understanding of their situation diverges from that of professional policy analysts. The reasons these individuals give in order to account for why this is the case are explored, showing the “unbridgeable” chasm between policy analysts’ understanding of the student loans programs and their functioning and that of their on-the-ground, everyday users.

Paper presented at the 2010 Aldrich Interdisciplinary Conference

St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Community Development
Government Services
Financial Services Industry
Industry Sectors 
Educational Services
Public Administration
Federal Government Public Administration
Provincial and Territorial Public Administration
Start date 
1 Jan 2010