Student reactions to Express OSAP

The traditional September ritual of ‘line up and get your loans’ was replaced by an electronic method at Ryerson University this year, leaving students answerless as to where the money went.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) launched the Express application process intending to bring Ryerson University faster processing by directly depositing loans and cutting the long and tedious lineups. But over the last few weeks, many students have been unable to get concrete answers and theirloans before tuition deadline on September 30.

After ten minutes of waiting and hearing the instructional voice recording more than enough times, students hang up. Emailing is not any better, as all that will immediately get you is an automatic response. The line-up at Financial Aid Offices were over an hour wait on Friday, three days before the tuition fees deadline. Students, it seems, have been left hanging.

On all ends, things are just not looking to good.

Students like Angela Denstedt are left to wait in line for more than a few hours at a time during the first three weeks of school. “People who were handling it were ill-equipped. They didn’t have answers either,” she said.

The approval for OSAP with form submissions was fast and easy for Denstedt. Her online profile stated her funds had been released but they still are yet to be seen in her bank account. She immediately contacted Financial Aid inquiring where the loan was. A week has passed, and still, no answer.

“People are getting anxious because you can’t talk to anyone. No one has answers other than to wait,” she said.

The application process had been confusing for students who mailed their submission forms. Denstedt was not sure if Ryerson received the forms and worried that a mistake she made was the cause of delay in processing.

Muntasir Mamun, student in business technology management, has lined up at the Students Fees office four times this month. “I just want to understand the problem,” said Mamun.”I was afraid if I didn’t pay by the deadline, I’d get kicked out.”

New to OSAP this year, Mamun was not impressed with the hanging questions.
He applied early in August and had a few glitches understanding the paper process. And while he doesn’t know who to blame for the wait, he would have preferred a face-to-face conversation.

The good news is that students unable to pay their fees by September 30 are eligible for an extension, but at a price. Students with unpaid tuition will have a $70 deferral fee automatically applied to their RAMSS accounts. After that, students will be charged a monthly fee valued at 1.25 % of their tuition.

Perhaps OSAP is just working out the kinks, but the new process hasn’t reduced any of the wait time – students are just waiting alone rather than huddled together down Jorgenson Hall. And if you choose not to wait, the options are limited, with some students taking out bank loads or raching out to their parents for help

Sarah Belcourt, a third-year nutrition student, has imbalanced funds in her Ryerson account now. She used her personal savings to pay her tuition on time but last week the loan was partially deposited as a credit on her RAMSS account.

“I just wish they had put everything in one place. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t,” said Belcourt. “I don’t expect it to be perfect, but this confusion is pretty standard.”

Until last week, there was no person or people to be held accountable. Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University, responded to the confusion and took responsibility for Ryerson’s delays in processing the high-volume of applications.