OSAP finally helps with student debt

Editorial photo by Toby VanWeston

The Ontario government announced a re-make to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), re-naming it the Ontario Student Grant (OSG). The OSG will benefit those families in the lower-to-middle–income bracket with added bonuses for full-time mature students and married students. This replaces many provincial assisted programs rolling them into one non-repayable grant. It’s set to roll out at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

The newly re-designed OSG allows a dependent college student whose parents earn $50,000 or below per year to finish their college education with no provincial student debt. University students whose families are in the same income bracket will have some of their costs covered, but not all. This is because of higher tuition costs at university. According to an article written by Simona Chiose, the president of Seneca College and chair of Colleges Ontario, David Agnew, says, “low-income college students will benefit most.”

The Ontario Student Grant will give eligible students an opportunity to get post-secondary education by making education more accessible to more students, including mature students. The OSG will also make Ontario more competitive by increasing the number of Ontarians who get a post-secondary diploma or degree.

Statistically students from lower-income families are approximately half as likely to attend college or university compared to that of a student who comes from a higher-income family, according to Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. A 2005 study, released by Ontario’s former premier, Bob Rae, showed 36 per cent of students from lower-income families were in some sort of post-secondary education compared to 56 per cent from higher-income families. But, with these new changes to student aid, a post-secondary education will become accessible and affordable to more than 150,000 qualifying students. This allows for all students, regardless of family income, to reap the benefits of a post-secondary education and all it has to offer.

The OSG will also benefit those students whose family income is $83,000 per year or below by offering an increase in grant money, as well as more availability to loans. Over half of

Ontario’s population falls into this income category and many young adults do not venture into the world of post-secondary education because of the burden of student debt. However, with these new incentives, students can get a higher education without that huge debt looming overhead.

Mature full-time students are not excluded from the OSG either. Within the “old” OSAP, which was a cumbersome and difficult system to understand, mature students wanting to return to school were faced with a time period in which they had to have been out of high school for eligibility to enroll. The “new” OSG eliminates that stipulation, making eligibility much more obtainable. Without the waiting period, mature students are now able to continue their post-secondary education sooner, enabling them back into Ontario’s workforce and financial growth.

As well, the OSG will help Ontario reach its goal of having 70 per cent of adult Ontarians obtain a post-secondary diploma or degree by the year 2020. That figure will surpass 2014’s percentage of 66, which was up from 56 per cent in 2002. One of Ontario’s biggest competitive resources is its labour force. That’s why the OSG incentives for low-to-middle-income families are so important. They can only make Ontario more competitive.

Regardless, all students from low-to-middle-income families, as well as full time-mature students will fair better within the new system. In fact, the OSG will better equip those students, giving them a fighting chance in a very competitive job market. Why should some prosper while others flounder strictly because of their family’s financial situation? They shouldn’t. And now they won’t.

This editorial was written by:

Josh Nelson 

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