Revamped OSAP Better, Easier and More Accessible: Matthews

Ontario Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development knocks down common student OSAP complaints

This story has been published alongside CFS representative Gayle McFadden’s letter to the editor regarding the Ontario government’s recent OSAP overhaul, which can be found here.

Deb Matthews
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

Maybe it’s time to show OSAP some love.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already going to college or university. We know you worked hard to get here, and money can be tight. We made changes to OSAP this year to clear a path for all those people who didn’t make it to where you are, because they thought they couldn’t afford it. But we also wanted to make life easier for those already enrolled in post-secondary education, like you.

It’s time to clear the air on some myths about the new OSAP. Here’s what I tell students when they say that it isn’t for them.

I think my parents earn too much: It’s true that we’re making tuition free for students from families that make less than $50,000 per year. But we what to make it clear that OSAP is still here to help if you’re from a family that makes more. In fact, many students over the $50,000 mark will be eligible for free tuition.

Take Jess, for example. Her parents make $110,000, and she’s going to a different city for university. Jess can still get $2,100 in grants (money that she won’t have to pay back) and $7,100 in loans, meaning she has $9,200 in financial assistance to help out with school.

I don’t want to have to take a loan: If you don’t want to take on debt, we get that. We’ve changed OSAP so that you can choose to take only the grant and ignore the loan. But the only way you can find out how much you can get is to apply for OSAP.

I’m worried about being able to pay my loan back: Fair enough. The thing that makes OSAP a more manageable than other bank loans is a) you don’t have to start paying it back until six months after graduation and b) the interest is usually lower than what a bank can offer. You’re not required to make payments if you are making less than $25,000 per year. If it still feels like too much, we offer a repayment assistance plan: you can apply for a payment reduction or stoppage until things get better.

This whole thing seems too complicated: We’re making it simpler. We’ve built an OSAP calculator (ontario.ca/osap) to help you get a sense of what you’re eligible for in the time it takes to wait out one of those OSAP YouTube ads that are haunting you. We’ve changed the full application to be faster and easier to understand. And unless you’ve landed one of those mythical jobs testing video games, it’s probably the easiest way for you to get money for school.

So, maybe it’s time to show OSAP some love.

The 2017-18 application is open. Visit http://ontario.ca/osap to find out how much you could get.

 

Deb Matthews is the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. 

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Revamped OSAP Better, Easier and More Accessible: Matthews