As announced in the 2015 Budget, Ontario is making its student financial assistance program easier to use, more flexible, and more transparent.
The province is moving forward with several important changes to modernize the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for the 2015-16 school year including:
Giving students more control over how much financial aid they withdraw. Previously, OSAP applicants were issued the full loans and grants they qualified for without being able to take a smaller amount if they wished. Starting this year, students will have the option of declining a full loan and only withdrawing the grant support they qualify for, and next year students will be able to decide on the portion of the loan amount that they wish to withdraw.
Ending the requirement for students to report their vehicle as an asset when being assessed for student financial aid. This means that over 7,300 students per year will no longer have their OSAP funding reduced because they own a vehicle.
Helping students predict how much they are expected to contribute to the cost of their education each year by setting a fixed $3,000 student contribution. Previously, OSAP made a complicated determination about how much each student was expected to contribute.
Exempting the first $3,000 in a student’s assets from their financial aid assessment. Assets include money in bank accounts, tax-free savings accounts, bonds, stocks, term deposits, mutual funds and Guaranteed Investment Certificates.
Indexing student aid to inflation to keep up with the growth in student costs. For 2015-16, the student loan limit will increase to $155 per week for single students and $355 per week for students who are married or have dependent children.
Helping students with the costs of postsecondary education is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up by making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, investing in people’s talents and skills, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
Earlier this year, Ontario also launched the Ontario Student Loan Rehabilitation Program which allows borrowers who have defaulted on the Ontario portion of their loan to bring their loan back into good standing, through scheduled partial payments.
Ontario provided about $1.3 billion in student loans and grants in 2014-15, helping more than 380,000 students.
Seventy per cent of the financial assistance Ontario distributes does not have to be repaid.
The increase to the student loan limit means that a student starting a four-year university degree in 2015-16 is eligible to receive about $1,000 more in financial aid over four years.
Ontario’s 30% Off Tuition Grant will help about 230,000 college and university students in the 2015-16 school year save up to $1,830 in tuition.
Adjusted for inflation, the average repayable OSAP debt of public college and university students graduating last year was 23 per cent less than their 2001 counterparts.