My parents make enough money, but I don’t get any help from them. What do I do?
This was one of the major topics of discussion when Ontario's minister of advanced education and skills development, Deb Matthews, met with student representatives from Western University and Fanshawe College to talk about the new Ontario Student Assistance Program today.
Changes to OSAP have been ongoing, but the province says more than one-third of all full-time Ontario college and university students are receiving free tuition this school year.
According to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, over 12,500 students will attend school tuition-free in London alone. Students attending university and college this fall are the first to benefit from the new OSAP changes.
However, a major concern for student representatives is finding a place for students who fall through the cracks.
Matthews acknowledged these concerns and opened the floor to students for any advice on how to improve the current system.
“When there’s a good relationship and the parents are there but just not prepared, I don’t know what to do about that. To be perfectly honest, ... if you take away the parental obligation, then you no longer have an income-tested program, so you would have to spread to aid to everyone,” Matthews said.
She stressed that Western University’s Student Financial Services can be the best tool for students in that situation.
Tobi Solebo, University Students' Council president, was happy with the way student representatives engaged in the conversation.
"I think with any new change, there's always going to be a few glitches or some areas of improvement, but the one thing that always shines is the fact that the government seems very open to these challenges," Solebo said.
Other important topics of discussion included financial assistance for part-time students and international students, as well as early OSAP education.