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OSAP and You: Changes in 2017

“Why wasn’t I born in 1999?” I wonder to myself, reading over the provincial government’s upcoming changes to OSAP. Like most people, this has made me question the cost of my university experience and wonder why I didn't take year off to "find myself" after all. 

These changes combine many pre-existing grants into one huge Ontario Student Grant for the 2017/2018 school year which increases accessibility and eliminates confusion when it comes to applying for provincial aid.

70% of university students coming from low-income households that make ”a combined household income of less than $50,000 per year” are projected to receive grant funding that more than covers their annual tuition. To put it simply, free tuition for students from low-income households!

Mature or married students should expect to receive additional funding. Some grants will not be changing or lumped into the Ontario Student Grant. These include bursaries for students with disabilities, first generation bursaries, aboriginal postsecondary education and training bursaries, the Ontario Part-Time Grant, the Living and Learning Grant, and graduate scholarships.

This grant also promises to cap annual debt at $10,000. This is actually more than the current cap at $7,500. However there is also the aim of increasing total grant funding for lower middle-income households and making provincial loans more accessible to upper-middle and upper-income households. So although some students may be required to pay off more debt than in previous years, the increased access to low-interest loans and increased grant funding to low-income students should overall provide better educational funding and access to postsecondary education.

In 2012, the province of Ontario was ranked tenth in the nation by the Council of Ontario Universities for student aid funding. The average university student in Ontario received less funding from our government than in any other Canadian province. Since then, Ontario has continuously been decreasing limitations to OSAP funding. In 2015, limitations that would lessen funding to students who owned cars or working part-time jobs were removed. Still, OSAP will continue to require students contribute $3,000 a year to their own educational funding regardless of family income. Students are expected to work 17 hours a week at minimum wage during the summer to achieve this number or dip into their own savings.

Now what does this mean for the average university student? Well for starters, it makes applying for and receiving student loans easier. And there should be a reduction in the amount of money that you have to pay off after university. So if all goes as planned, financially, university should be less of a financial burden.

To all of us currently receiving OSAP funding, the province has ensured that we will not receive less aid in future years than we are now. According to the Ontario government’s website, 150,000 students are expected to benefit from changes to grant-funding.

Unfortunately for those of us in school and dreading the impending responsibility of paying off student loans, the new Ontario Student Grant does little in the way of reducing pre-existing loan debt.

Basically, if you are currently struggling under an Atlas-like burden of debt repayment in fear of the costs of next year (or two or three), worry less. Keep scraping on by, but know that Ontario might help you out a little sooner.






These articles were only edited by me. To read articles written by me, click here.
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