Post Secondary Students Depend(ent) On Their Parents

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Article Summary

This Priority Arbitration decision confirms student loans and lines of credit are a neutral factor when assessing financial dependency.

In Economical and ICBC (, Arbitrator Sampliner found that a full time university student who earned less than $1,500 in the three years before the accident (while living with her parents between school semesters) was principally dependant upon her parents for finances.

While the claimant had a significant line of credit and utillized OSAP loans for the funding of her law degree, these funds were not considered assets as part of her financial means. They were in fact debts to be repaid, and neutral in the dependency analysis to the extent that those funds were used to pay school expenses and not her cost of living.

The catastrophically impaired claimant lacked capacity to submit to an EUO and could not remember her banking details. The evidence regarding her income and expenses was provided in a limited capacity by her parents and the records that her counsel was able to locate. The Arbitrator accepted the "LICO methodology" to establish the claimant's cost of living was at least the generally recognized low income cut-off as measured by Statistics Canada. With income of between $1 and $1,500 per year, the actual expenses mattered little once the student loans and line of credit were excluded from the analysis.

This case continues to grow the body of caselaw suggesting that absent unusual circumstances (significant income or other independent financial means) most full time students are considered dependent upon their parent(s) for priority purposes.

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