Queen’s Responds to OSAP Changes

On January 17th, the provincial government announced significant changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). OSAP provides financial aid that enables millions of students to receive a post-secondary education across the province. The changes, which come into effect in the 2019-2020 school year, will replace free tuition grants with 10% off tuition. Moreover, the changes will get rid of a six-month interest-free grace period that allows students to find a steady job before they begin paying off their loans. For many students, these changes will have major repercussions.

Overall, the accessibility of OSAP is being extremely narrowed. Not only is the government lowering the family income threshold, but they are also enforcing a minimum of 50% loans in the grant-to-loan ratio. These modifications will cut payments and increase loans for students who no longer fulfill the OSAP criteria.

On January 22nd, just five days after the OSAP changes were publicized, over 200 Queen’s students gathered at the intersection of Union Street and University street to protest. Prior to the protest, a Facebook page was created to promote the event to the Queen’s community. Protestors were determined to “channel [their] disappointment, anger and activist enthusiasm surrounding last week’s decision into a physical presence”. In attendance were speakers from both opposition parties as well as local representatives to help support the cause.

The power and passion of the Queen’s community is remarkable. In solidarity with post-secondary institutions across Ontario, Queen’s came together to send a message to the provincial government – a message that will surely have an impact.