The Vancouver Island University Students’ Union found a romantic way to showcase the financial weight students will carry for years after they graduate.
VIU student Alec Patterson exchanged vows with his student loan, played by Ben McTaggart, at a wedding and reception held at the university last week. In the theatrical performance and in real life, Patterson is a typical example of a student reliant on loans to pay for post-secondary education.
Patterson was raised by a single parent in a middle-to-low-income family. He enrolled in VIU in 2011 and didn't have the financial stability to pay tuition fees up front, which have more than doubled in British Columbia since 2001.
"Right now, I have about $42,000 in loans and if I pay it off in my 10-year projection, it will cost $62,000. I will be paying $20,000 of interest alone," Patterson said.
Interest between prime plus 2.5 per cent and prime plus five per cent is charged on B.C. government student loans.
Patterson expected to graduate in April, but had to push back his graduation due to the impact of his student loan.
"I'm short two classes because I had to work three jobs, so I will be graduating either December or next April."
Before the ceremony concluded with the signing of the loan, both Patterson and McTaggart read their vows and commitment to each other.
"When you first applied for me in 2011 it all turned around. I promise to always be there for you, seeking a majority of your bi-weekly wages. I vow to never give up on you," McTaggart said to a laughing crowd. "We work as a team. While I'm a gigantic burden, I will keep you company and be by your side, even on the nights I keep you from going out with your friends."
Students' union executive director Michael Olson said: "We wanted to find a way to talk about the issue in a way that's a bit lighthearted so we can still get the issue across without going into the doom and gloom, even though it is a bit doom and gloomy."