Lower tuition, less grants and more restricted student assistance means big changes for Ontario students
Ontario students are still trying to wrap their heads around the recent move by the provincial government to cut tuition rates and restructure the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
Many of these major changes leave students wondering what this means for their post-secondary education and how it will affect their financial futures.
Read more to find out what these new tuition and OSAP guidelines really mean for students like you.
What does a 10 per cent tuition cut mean?
Starting in September 2019, domestic students across the province will see a 10 per cent decrease in their tuition rates.
For students at George Brown College (GBC) this could amount to anywhere between $380 to $2,100 off your tuition bills, depending on the program you are taking.
Students enrolled in diploma programs pay an average of $2,400 per year according to ontariocolleges.ca.
What is the “student choice initiative”?
As of the 2019-20 academic year, the government’s “student choice initiative” will mean that students can also opt out of some non-essential ancillary fees.
“Student fees in Ontario can range as high as $2,000 per year and, too often, force students to pay for services they do not use and organizations they do not support,” said Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
At GBC students pay approximately $323 in mandatory ancillary fees per semester.
Fullerton said that each student will determine which on-campus student services and organizations they want to financially support.
Do tuition cuts means cuts to services at GBC?
Although college and universities are mandated to lower their tuition fees and make some ancillary fees optional, the government is providing no additional financial support to the intuitions.
“They will make choices in terms of what they need to do,” said Fullterton. “They will be able to determine what they need to do to change, to adapt and innovate.”
A 10 per cent tuition cut would take about $360 million away from universities and $80 million from colleges, according to Global News.
The college’s president, Anne Sado, reported to the GBC board of governors that the estimated loss in revenue for the college would be $9 million. She noted that her administration was anticipating cut backs on revenues after the Ford government took office last year and this will be taken into account in the planning of the college’s budget for 2019–20.
“We better start creating some contingency plans,” Sado said.
Changes to OSAP
Major changes will be implemented under the government’s new plans for post-secondary education. Below are the questions and answers that every student should know and plan for accordingly.
1. Who can qualify for grants?
Students with a family income of $140,000 and above will no longer be able to receive grants through OSAP. These students will only be able to receive repayable loans.
OSAP grants will no longer cover the average tuition for students earning less than $50,000, meaning that low-income students will have to repay loans, with interest.
A minimum of 50 per cent of OSAP assistance for students in second-entry programs will be in loans, instead of grants.
2. Who needs to repay OSAP?
The annual income threshold for OSAP repayment was reduced from $35,000 to $25,000. This means repayment is mandatory once the student makes over $25,000 a year.
3. When will interest be charged ?
Students will no longer be given a six-months interest-free grace period after graduation. Interest will be charged on OSAP loans, starting the day you graduate. However, you do not need to start making payments until six months after graduation.
4. How will parental income affect mature students?
In order to quality as a mature student and not have parental income factored into your eligibility for OSAP, you must be out for school for at least six years under the new rules.
Previously, people out of school for four years or more were considered mature students.
Current mature students will not see their OSAP eligibility change.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story reported incorrect estimates of the effects of the tuition cuts on revenues at George Brown College. The number reported was in fact the projected loss for all colleges and universities across the province. The Dialog regrets the error.