Updated: Dec 10, 2019
As you may or may not already know, some changes were made to OSAP by the Ontario government this week. Doug Ford’s Conservative party revealed that they would be making some changes to the way Ontario distributes funding for post-secondary students. They have decided to get rid of the “free tuition grants” given to those whose family income is equal to or less than $50,000 and instead, replace it with 10% off tuition for ALL students.
They have also claimed that they are going to try to focus more on the low-income families so the number of recipients who receive OSAP funding will decrease dramatically. This will especially affect those who were receiving the Ontario Student Grant. So, to break it down further, they’re basically going to be lowering the family income level required to receive the Ontario Student Grant. Previously, you needed to earn $175,000 to qualify for grant funding, however – that has been reduced to $140,000.
Additionally, the Ontario Government decided to change the grant-to-loan ratio to a MINIMUM of 50 percent loan. So, this basically means that NOBODY will be able to get more grants than they do loans. If anything, you’ll most probably receive more loans (which you HAVE to pay back) than grants now – if you weren’t already.
HOWEVER, the biggest and most controversial change that the Ontario Government will be making is the fact that they are completely removing the interest-free grace period that allowed students up to 6 months AFTER graduation before they had to start paying off their student debt.
The reason why a lot of students are upset by this change is because this 6-month grace period allowed new grads to find a new job, save up their coins, and give them a little bit of a break before they have to start paying off their tuition in installments.
Now that that’s gone, students will basically need to start paying off their student debt IMMEDIATELY after they walk off the stage and receive their diploma – regardless if they have a steady source of income or not.
With all of that being said, it’s safe to say that thousands of students and families around Ontario are not impressed with these changes. For example:
Kathleen Wynne, the previous Premier and leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, took to Twitter to discuss the impact that the Free Tuition Plan has made. She tweeted that, " Under our Free Tuition plan there was was a 36% increase in Indigenous students, 20% increase in low income, 33% increase in mature students 24% increase in middle income. We were increasing access to college and university. Ford’s government is restricting access." You can click the embedded tweet for more details.
Fortunately, you can take action if you are not happy with these changes either. You can contact your local MPPs, so if you live in Windsor-West, you can reach out to Liza Gretzky (@LGretzky) on Twitter OR if you live in Windsor-Tecumseh, you can contact Percy Hatfield (@PercyHatfield). If you want to do even MORE, you can call Doug Ford’s office at 416 325 1941 and/or call Honorable Merrilee Fullerton, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities at 1-800-387-5514 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A more recent update is that a petition on Change.org was created by students from across Ontario. The petition is protesting the new OSAP changes and currently has over 200,000 signatures. If you would also like to sign it, here is a link to the petition: https://www.change.org/p/fordnation-stop-doug-ford-s-cuts-to-osap.
Additionally, protests have been held across Ontario university campuses in the last few days by their student unions and other student-run organizations challenging these changes and asking for a better, more viable solution.
So, now it’s up to you. What do you think about these new changes? Do you agree that cutting back on the amount of funding released will help Ontario resolve their multi billion-dollar debt and strengthen our economy, or do you believe it will be detrimental to the livelihood, enrollment rate, and financial situation of students from across Ontario?