Reality Check: Federal funding could make a huge difference to university finances

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Higher education is a provincial responsibility, which gives the federal government a free pass when it comes to scrutiny of university and college funding. But the decline in federal transfers for postsecondary institutions is a big reason why tuition is so high and per-student public funding levels are so low.
 
Federal funding for universities, colleges, and apprenticeships flows to the provinces through various transfer programs like the Canada Social Transfer (CST). The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Alternative Federal Budget 2013 estimates that the failure of the CST to keep pace with enrolment and inflation has led to a $1.7 billion shortfall in core funding for higher education in Canada.
 
The funding gap has largely been filled by tuition. To reduce tuition fees, the CCPA proposes to restore dedicated federal postsecondary funding contributions to pre-1992 levels. If this additional funding were distributed based on provincial disparities in tuition, and the 1992-equivalent tuition adjusted for inflation, the reduction in fees for Ontario university students would be on the order of 60 per cent.
 
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Alternative Federal Budget 2013
Statistics Canada, Survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs for Full-time Students at Canadian Degree-granting Institutions, Table 8; The Daily, September 12, 2012: University Tuition Fees

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