Ontario announced today that it is making long-anticipated policy changes that will make it easier to pay tuition in that province, a plan that will likely be unpopular with university administrators who will struggle to make up for lost revenue. Beginning in 2014-15, colleges and universities will:
1. No longer be allowed to require fall semester tuition fees before the beginning of August
2. No longer require students who complete Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) applications by the beginning of August to pay their tuition before receiving their financial aid
3. No longer charge deferral fees or interest to those who pay tuition in per-term installments
4. No longer collect deposits of more than $500 or 10 per cent of tuition, whichever is greater
Ontario will also make it cheaper to take less than a full course load. As of fall 2015, university students will be charged on a per-credit basis if they take less than a 70 per cent course load, rather than the full-time student rate charged at some schools. In 2016, that threshold will rise to 80 per cent. Students with disabilities will be charged on a per-credit basis regardless of course loads.
Currently, some universities charge the same tuition rate for anyone taking a course load of 60 per cent or greater. Student groups like the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and University of Toronto Students’ Union have long opposed the policy. Meric Gertler, University of Toronto president, recently said that changes to flat fees could cost U of T $16 million a year in lost income.