The province says university and college students in B.C. just need to buy fewer coffees in order to pay for tuition increases.

Student societies at Vancouver Island schools organized a rally outside the B.C. legislature Wednesday to protest the student debt load.

The federation is urging Premier Christy Clark to make affordable, high quality post-secondary education a priority.

But in a press release, the government says it's limited tuition increases to two per cent a year since 2005 and this is the fifth straight year tuition hikes have been less than the national average.

It says in the last year, tuition increases worked out to less than $90 a year for the average university student, and individual students could cover that cost by buying one less coffee each week.

The government also says 37 per cent of student loans have been forgiven, and adds that students in B.C. pay less than one-third of the actual cost of a post-secondary education.