Ontario made several changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program application process in an effort to make education more affordable and accessible to post-secondary students.
“We are making it easier for students receiving OSAP to plan, budget and pay for their college or university education,” said Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.
Announced on Tuesday, the OSAP website is equipped with a new tool that provides students with an estimate of tuition costs and OSAP coverage. In addition, students will now receive a university or college bill that is already reduced by the amount of OSAP aid they will receive. If there is remaining funds, they will be sent directly to the student to cover additional costs, such as books and living expenses.
Further, OSAP is now integrated with the Ontario College Application Service and the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. Students applying for college or university for the 2018-19 academic year through OUAC and OCAS can click a link in their applications to transfer their personal and program information to OSAP.
Students from families who have contributed towards a Registered Education Savings Plan will be able to access more financial support from OSAP. Students will no longer need to report RESP information on their OSAP application, as savings placed in an RESP will no longer count against the amount of funds received from OSAP.
“Families will have an incentive to invest in RESPs and save for their children’s education, even when OSAP is providing significantly more generous grants,” said Blazina.
The government is also making it easier for students to repay loans after graduation. Blazina explained the minimum salary a borrower needs to make before they are required to start repaying the Ontario portion of their student loans will be increased from $25,000 to $35,000.
“We’re making these changes because we want to make sure every person can get the skills they need to find well-paying jobs,” she said.
This year, OSAP applications for 2018–19 opened in November, four months earlier than previous years. Students also have the option of turning down loans and receiving only grants, money that does not have to be repaid.
“Our government believes that attending college or university should be based on your potential and not on your ability to pay,” said Blazina. “That’s why we transformed the Ontario Student Assistance Program so that now hundreds of thousands of students will get free tuition or more generous grants than ever before.”
In 2017, OSAP applications increased by more than 10 per cent compared to previous years. During this school year, more than 225,000 or one-third of all full-time post-secondary students in Ontario are receiving free tuition, while another 400,000 students are receiving OSAP loans and grants to help cover tuition costs.
Blazina recommends that students try the OSAP calculator to see how much money they may qualify for through the new OSAP.