College and university students applying for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) this fall will be the first to benefit from its new changes, including free tuition and larger grants.
Eligible students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less may receive free average tuition. This is the average cost of tuition for a regular college diploma program across Ontario.
Single independent students will also be eligible for this grant if they earn $30,000 or less per year.
However, not everyone at this income level will receive the grant. Students will not qualify for free tuition if they have large scholarships or financial assets, for example.
Students from higher income families may also notice a change in their OSAP funding this year. Grants which were previously given to students at various times of the year including the start, end, or years later in their studies will now be provided in a single upfront grant called the Ontario Student Grant (OSG).
In previous years, students had to be less than four years out of high school to be considered for the 30 per cent off tuition grant. Eligibility for the new OSAP grant will not depend on the number of years someone has been out of high school or the program level, making it more accessible to mature and graduate students as well as married students and students with children.
There are further changes to be in place for OSAP by next year. Parents and spouses of married students will be expected to contribute less of their money towards the student’s education and they will instead be supported through grants and/or interest-free and low-cost loans.
Thinking about applying? Here’s everything you need to know:
What is OSAP?
OSAP is a financial assistance program to help post-secondary students pay for college and university in Ontario. The program offers funding through grants and loans. A grant is money which students can keep while a loan is money that they eventually need to repay.
Can you apply for grants only?
Yes, students have the option to pick grant funding only and opt out of the student loan.
Who is eligible?
Funding is open to part-time and full-time Ontario residents who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or protected persons. The student does not have to be going to school in Ontario or Canada to apply as long as the school has been approved by OSAP.
But, a student may not be eligible for funding for a number of reasons. Some of these include already having enough financial resources to cover their expenses allowed by OSAP, not meeting the academic progress requirements or having multiple outstanding loan overpayments.
When can you apply?
The 2017-2018 OSAP application is currently open. The deadline to apply is 60 days before the end of your study period.
How much money is provided?
The amount of funding is based on the student’s personal financial situation (expected income, family size) and education expenses (tuition, books, child care, living and travel costs). This is calculated through reporting the student’s previous and expected family income.
When and how can loans be repaid?
The payments are made to the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC). It provides a six-month grace period before students have to start repaying their loans. No interest is charged for the six months after the last confirmed study period ends. Once that period is up, the prime rate of interest for the Ontario portion of the loan is +1 per cent and +2.5 per cent for the Canada portion.
Who can you contact for further inquiries?
Students can contact Ryerson’s Student Financial Assistance office for any other questions about OSAP.