‘OSAP changes will assist lower income families’ says Ford government

April 11, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The provincial government’s decision to change the way student grants and loans are distributed through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is designed to assist students from lower income families, says Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities,

The government announced a rollback of tuition by ten per cent, while saying a larger percentage of grants will go to students with a family income of below $50,000.

In making the announcement, Ms.Fullerton said the changes were needed to make sure the program is ‘sustainable and available’ to students in the greatest financial need. 

“Under the current program students from higher income families were receiving grants just for applying – not because they had a demonstrated need,” she said. “We will take action to ensure the program fulfills its intended purpose – to provide support to families in the greatest financial need.”

The new program will also eliminate the six-month grace period for graduating students who previously were allowed time to find a job without interest being collected on student loans.

The announcement did not sit well with some students and prompted a walkout of classes in protest on at least 17 campuses around the province.

The changes may affect enrolment at local campuses but that has yet to be seen, as students are still completing their current semester.

Joe Andrews, principal of the Orangeville campus of Humber College, says the lowering of tuition fees will have a direct impact on the operational budgets of colleges and universities.

“What we’re looking at is not only a tuition reduction of ten per cent, it also impacts the operation budgets of these institutions quite significantly,” 

Mr. Andrews explained. “As an example, this particular decision means $12 million less funding to Humber based on tuition in the upcoming fiscal year. We have to look at ways of supporting the operational needs. College students will be paying on average, $340 less per academic year and a student in a general arts type of degree at a university will be seeing almost a $700 reduction in their tuition for the upcoming academic year. 

“The other big push-back is for students who had an OSAP loan. Immediately after graduating the student will incur interest on that loan. Before, the interest was not applied until six months after that individual graduated.”

Mr. Andrews said that in his experience many people do not plan ahead for the cost of continuing education and added, “we have hundreds and hundreds of bursaries that are available,” 

Humber currently has about 215 full-time students at its Orangeville campus and is increasing its part-time high school integration program up to 200 students.

Enrollment is still strong at the Orangeville campus and it has some very popular programs.

The changes in OSAP have so far not had any measurable impact at the Orangeville Campus of Georgian College in terms of student enrollment.

The Georgian campus hosts several full-time programs including business and health related programs, including practical nursing.

Changes in OSAP won’t be happening until the start of the next school year in September so if some students decide to opt out, those numbers won’t be reflected for several months. However, enrollment numbers at Georgian are strong and the campus is adding new programs this year.

“It’s too soon to know about the changes that are coming into effect this year – the changes are coming in September,” said Brenda Burman, Georgian’s  Orangeville campus manager, adding “our numbers are strong,” in terms of enrollment. 

Currently there are around 178 full-time students pursuing credit courses at the Georgian campus, which is adding two new programs for the coming year. 

The average cost of tuition for a college student in Ontario is around $2,600 per semester for domestic students.

Ms. Burman said that with changes in OSAP, a college education in Ontario will continue to be a viable option for student seeking post-secondary education.

“With the announcement we are hearing, college will continue to be affordable as the government implements the ten per cent reduction in tuition fees,” she said. “It will be affordable and accessible to students at all income levels. Students are pursuing programs at Ontario colleges to get the professional expertise that will lead them to their careers. We are adding two new programs this year and are seeing strong numbers for all of our programs.”

Students or parents who need more information are welcome to reach out to the College.

“If we can help with questions that parents or the families have, we have an event coming up on April 16, which is called ‘Get Help to go Back”, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and we promote that as a place to bring questions about OSAP or financial aid and how to apply to college.”

While changes in OSAP may affect some students’ decision to attend a post-secondary institution, the reduction in tuition fees may encourage others to take the initiative and pursue a diploma.


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