Beginning this year, Ontario graduates will have six interest-free months to start paying back their student loans after they complete their program, the province announced Monday.
The change is part of an overhaul of the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) that also promises to reduce the number of forms applicants have to fill out, and lower how much time students spend in line ups to get their loans. When students apply for OSAP, they will also be automatically considered for Student Access Guarantee funding.
According to a government media release, additional support will be provided for increased assistance for tuition, living costs, books, supplies and equipment, as well as for students with families. Students will also be able to retain more earnings from part-time work and a new grant for part-time students was also announced. The province says $81 million in new funding has been earmarked for student assistance.
The Canadian Federation of Students released a statement applauding the introduction of an interest-free repayment period, but argued that due to rising tuition, students will continue to face growing debt. “With these changes to OSAP, students graduating this December will have six worry-free months to find a job and start their careers, but current and future students can expect to struggle with more debt as rising tuition fees and loan amounts threaten to make their post-graduate burden significantly heavier,” the statement read.