A $1,283 bursary available to every Nova Scotian university student is putting a degree within reach of more families. With the bursary, Nova Scotia has the lowest undergraduate arts and sciences tuition in the Maritimes and, overall, tuition remains at, or below, the national average. “Nova Scotia has a reputation for excellent universities, which is why more than half of Maritime Canada’s students come here,” said Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Marilyn More. “While some people say it costs more to attend university in Nova Scotia, that isn’t the case.” When the bursary is factored into numbers released today, Oct. 9 by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC), undergraduate tuition at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is reduced to $4,549. Undergraduate arts tuition at other Maritime universities ranges from $4,945 to $7,095. Similarly, undergraduate science tuition at Saint Mary’s University would drop to $4,637. Undergraduate science tuition at other Maritime universities ranges from $5,150 to $7,257. “We don’t think the MPHEC report shows a true picture of what Nova Scotian university students pay for tuition,” says Ms. More.”Each province takes a different approach to managing the cost of a post-secondary tuition so I understand why MPHEC used the amount that appears on a tuition invoice rather than what students actually pay.” But Nova Scotia has capped tuition increases at three per cent for the past two years. Using MPHEC’s numbers, Nova Scotia had some of the lowest tuition increases across the region last year. Tuition increases in other Maritime provinces were as high as four per cent for an undergrad degree. To help keep a university education affordable for Nova Scotian families and taxpayers, the province invested more than $90 million over the past two budgets. This means students receive more assistance in non-repayable grants instead of loans, that they have more money to cover the day-to-day costs of going to university including food, rent, transportation and books. As well, the province’s debt cap limits the amount of debt for a student at $28,560, a reduction of 36 per cent. Using the latest 2011-12 enrolment data available from the Association of Atlantic Universities, there were 70,868 university students in Maritime Canada in September 2011. More than half, 44,338, were attending universities in Nova Scotia. “We’re making a university education affordable for Nova Scotian families and we need the universities to make sure they’re getting maximum bang for every buck they get from government,” said Ms. More. The province is also working with university administrations to help them permanently reduce their annual operating costs.