Mature students should get Ontario tuition grant

Photo by Remek Debski/The Sihouette

Photo by Remek Debski/The Sihouette

It would be beneficial for mature students to be able to receive the tuition grant of 30 per cent off through the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP), but many of them won’t even be eligible.

Students entering post-secondary education from high school may need the extra help, but what about students who are already in college or university struggling to pay for their education?

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and University (MTCU) states that the 30 per cent off tuition grant is to help students make a smooth transition from high school to post-secondary.

The 30 per cent off eligibility wizard quiz at www.ontario.ca had three questions:

1. Are you an Ontario Resident?
2. Are you a Canadian Citizen?
3. Are you taking part-time or full-time studies?

It not enough to determine the eligibility of a student considering that the criteria is intensive and there is a lot more to it than just these three questions.

Students should be asked about their current employment status, expenses and whether this grant could be of assistance.

“In regards to eligibility, for college students in post-secondary this is not a good grant,” said Alastair Woods, chairperson of Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS). “I think that our position, the money that is used for the tuition grant can be used in a more beneficial way.”

You are eligible if you’re transitioning from high school to post-secondary and if you have been out of high school for up to six years with a permanent disability.

But according to MTCU if you’ve been out of high school more than four years but less than five years and you are in the final year of a co-op program, then you may be eligible.

George Brown College (GBC) allows students to apply for mature student status if the student is 19 years or older, but once the student doesn’t include their parents on their OSAP application, they are no longer eligible for the grant.

Mohammed Ali Aumeer, director of Education and Equity for the Student Association (SA) at GBC said, “There is another budget meeting coming up. It’s going to be another year of this 30 per cent off tuition grant that is not benefiting enough students.”

The pressure students face are high, with living in the city being expensive on top of all other expenses, this 30 per cent off tuition fees is not nearly benefiting as many students as it planned to.

“It’s the same pressure for all of us,” says Aumeer. “Even being fortunate enough to work full-time it is still hard to make ends meet, with the cost of living in the city, tuition and mortgage fees, so I believe the pressures we discuss at CFS meetings and that students discuss in the hallway, we’re all facing that really high cost of living.”

On March 28, 2013 the Ontario government gave the okay for institutions to increase tuition fees by three to five per cent a year for the next four years.

Currently Ontario has the largest tuition fees, which presents a problem for students who are paying their own fees.

Woods believes, “The government should actually invest the money in lowering tuition fees.”

According to CFS-Ontario, less than one-quarter of Ontario students will receive the 30 per cent off tuition grant.

How does this grant help students if mature students, the ones who need the help more so than a student transitioning to post-secondary, are not eligible?

There are other grants given out for other students, but the criteria for those are also specific as will not help all students.

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Mature students should get Ontario tuition grant