Ontario Government Makes Changes to Financial Aid

On the morning of 17th January 2019, Doug Ford’s government announced new payment changes and funding for post-secondary education in Ontario. The provincial government reduced the tuition fees for domestic students in Ontario by 10% for post-secondary education. The government made this announcement, with the goal to “keep more money in the pockets of Ontario’s students.” The tuition changes would save Ontario university students an average of $660/year and college students $340/year. These savings are replacing the free tuition grants and have left many students wondering how this change will affect their futures.

OSAP is now focusing directly on low-income families and will only be offered to students whose net family income is under $140,000 a year. Along with the mentioned outstanding qualification, the Ontario government is also eliminating the six-month grace period on interest. This six-month grace period allowed students to find a stable job after they graduate with exemption from any interest being collected on their student loans. With the golden six-month grace period gone, the students will now have more responsibilities with less time to save up money and pay off their loans.

OSAP is changing the grant-to-loan ratio to a minimum of 50% loan from Ontario post-secondary students which will mean that no student can receive more grants than they do loans. By ending the grace period for the students, the greater loan amounts for the students mean more stress and add further complexities.

With such major structural changes, even the province’s post-secondary schools will take a significant financial hit. According to the Globe, one-third of the university and college revenue comes from tuition and a 10% cut would result in a $300 million annual loss from the university system and around $30 million annual loss from the college system. Under Ford’s government, certain institutions, like Ryerson’s new Faculty of Law, are restricted to allow students to apply for an OSAP loan.

Elimination of the free tuition grants and the six-month interest-free grace period that helped students to attend university has caused a lot of anger among students. They are now starting to believe that the 10% tuition reduction will not help them afford university. On January 18th, Canadian Federation of Students held an emergency rally in front of Queen’s Park to express their views against the new changes. One of the speakers, Lucinda Qu, president of the Equity Studies Student Union said, “investments in social infrastructure and quality, critical, public education—investments, in other words, that are for all of the people—are what’s proven to save money and save lives.”

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