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New OSAP rules mean ‘free’ tuition for mature students

Ontario launches online calculator to allow students to find out instantly whether they qualify for free tuition or other grants


 
QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY - September 28, 2010 - Queen's Theological Hall stands covered in fall-coloured ivy at Queen's University in Kingston. (Photo by Yvonne Berg for Macleans)

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY – September 28, 2010 – Queen’s Theological Hall stands covered in fall-coloured ivy at Queen’s University in Kingston. (Photo by Yvonne Berg for Macleans)

By Julie Cazzin

Students applying to college and university for the September 2017 semester will be the first to benefit from the new OSAP. Last year, Ontario announced that it would be revamping financial assistance to make college and university more affordable for students, with some even being eligible for “free” tuition.

Many might not realize that also benefiting from the changes are qualifying “mature” students. This means that eligible Ontarians can go to college or university as mature students with enough OSAP grant funds to possibly cover their entire year’s tuition. The hope is that they can brush up on their skills to get better jobs in the workforce. (For the purposes of OSAP, a student would be considered a ‘mature’ student if they are a single “independent” student, married/common-law, or a sole support parent. In general, students are classified as “dependent” whether or not they are living on their own if they have been out of high school less than four years.)

Overall, the changes are impressive. In fact, the new OSAP rules will make average tuition free for students, including mature students and adult learners who do not have a college or university degree and whose family income, in general, is less than $50,000 per year. As well, students with kids may also be eligible to receive OSAP funding for child care costs, and students from higher income families will also benefit from more generous grants and loans. “The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is available for all types of full-time post-secondary students including mature students, married students, students with children and students dependent on their parents,” says Sean Greson, issues manager for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. “Eligibility for the new OSAP grant will not depend on the number of years out of high school or program level.”

For instance, the new OSAP will be more responsive to family size. “Grant funding will be available to families with incomes above $160,000, as the income threshold will increase with additional family members,” says Greson. “That means that for a family of four, the new OSAP will provide non-repayable aid such as grants, to students from families with annual incomes up to $175,000.”

MORE: Does the free tuition promise add up?

In addition, for the 2018-19 academic year, OSAP will reduce the amount parents and spouses are expected to contribute, further increasing levels of support to students from middle to upper income families and married students.

If you’re interested in finding out if you or a family member qualifies, Ontario has launched a new online calculator at Ontario.ca/osap to allow students to find out instantly whether they qualify for free tuition or other grants from the province. General information on the application process is available there, but students can also use the online calculator on the OSAP website to find out quickly and easily whether they qualify for free tuition and how much they might receive. As just one example, if you’re a single parent, have three children and earn $60,000 a year (in this case more than the $50,000 average), the new OSAP calculator will reveal that you are eligible for more than $16,000 of non-repayable aid, making the average university tuition in a year free with money left over for books and fees.

Students applying for OSAP for the 2017-18 school year can do so when the application opens in spring 2017. But you can get ready now by registering with OSAP here. “This includes creating your OSAP profile and getting your OSAP Access Number,” says Greson. “When the application opens, you’ll get a message from OSAP that it’s time to apply.”

About 150,000 people in Ontario will be eligible to receive free tuition as a result of the improvements the provincial government is making to the OSAP program. In fact, in 2014-2015 alone, Ontario issued almost $1.3 billion in grants and loans to students. In the long term, these OSAP changes mean that more than 80% of all those who receive OSAP will graduate with less provincial debt—a great value for low and middle-income Canadians and their families.


 

New OSAP rules mean ‘free’ tuition for mature students

  1. Note to Ontario posters:

    Well, here’s your chance…carpe diem as they say.

    I’ll be helping to pay for it.

  2. Life is good. I paid for my own tuition, I’ll be paying for my kids’, and now I’ll be paying for plenty of others’!

    • And maybe kids who are no longer independent enough to pay for their own tuition is part of the reason why the government is putting out grants. Think about that. If every kid is like yours and can’t pay for themselves, but the parent can’t afford it either – who is paying? The government has to. If they don’t, and no one pays for that kid’s education – you’ve got another homeless bum who leaches off society. Who’s paying for that? You too.

  3. Talk about a slap to the face as someone that went back as a mature student and is paying it back and worked while doing it to keep the loan as small as possible. Yes im in my field at least but the pay does not reflect the education.

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  5. The cost of a university degree rises every year, and the average cost for a full-time student to obtain a degree in 2017 is $6,373 yearly according to Statistics Canada. Education prices have shot up significantly over the past several decades and degrees are costing students more than many people can afford. Students are regularly putting themselves into massive amounts of debt simply because they want to gain an education and further themselves; however, this year is different, and changes are finally beginning in Ontario.

    The Ontario Student Assistance Program, commonly known as OSAP, has recently unveiled its new plan to help students and it may actually make a difference. OSAP promises to deliver more tuition money with fewer loans to pay back, for eligible students, and those whose families make under $50, 000 a year will receive free tuition.

    Countless students will at last benefit from being able to continue with or begin their studies, and they will finish school with less debt than previous students. These changes come at an opportune time because university costs are constantly reaching new highs and more students are struggling to pay for school while ending up in debt once they have finished.

    Now, when students finish their post-secondary education they will have less to pay back, and they will be able to focus more of their attention towards working and contributing to society. Overall, this could have a huge impact on Canada especially since having an education is vital to a person’s success in this day and age. Nowadays, more entry-level jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and since it is becoming more affordable for people to pursue an education that means that they will have access to more or better career paths.

    As a future student myself, it is life altering to hear that, finally, education is becoming slightly more accessible for students such as myself. The amount of stress that comes with having to focus on money to put oneself through school is incalculable. Thanks to OSAP’s new plan, students will be able to put more of their attention towards their education, where it should be, instead of worrying about how they are going to pay for their next round of tuition fees. That means that the quality of students should begin to rise because they will have a more attentive and positive outlook when it comes to post-secondary education.

    The province of Ontario is making an effort at furthering its residents and the country as a whole, and they are starting in a very crucial spot. With any luck, the rest of the Canada will follow suit and other provincial student aid programs will begin to make changes to their existing programs. If that does happen, we could be left with a new and improved Canadian outlook with a focus on educating as many people as possible. Then, instead of viewing University as a ploy to make money, future students will be keen to continue or begin their studies at a higher level.

    Canadians have been waiting for years to hear such good news, and it could be a sign that the government is ready to help us, the citizens, make our beloved home live up to its true potential. Education is vital all throughout the world, and we are now on a path to making it more accessible for all Canadians.

    • Alternatively, you might consider getting off of your ass and working to pay your way. I did it as a “mature” student.(Is that an oxymoron?) With a few years out in the working world, it took me eight years to complete a five-year course. Was it worth it? Damned right it was.

      • ‘Was it worth it? Damned right it was.

        Then shaddup and move on.

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