UPDATED: Ontario’s new budget to cover tuition for post-secondary students

New Ontario Student Grant system expected to be implemented in 2017

Queen's Park in Toronto.
Credit: 
Supplied by Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons

Post-secondary students from lower income houses will soon be paying little to nothing to attend universities and colleges in Ontario.

On Thursday, the Ontario government introduced the Ontario Student Grant (OSG) to offset the financial burden on university and college students. The province will provide grants large enough to cover the entire tuition of college students whose annual family income is less than $50,000.

University students will also be provided with an increase in financial aid, although they aren’t guaranteed to have their entire tuition paid for.

The new budget assures that no student would receive less financial aid with the new OSG system than they’re currently eligible for.

Average Canadian Tuition by Province (hover over map to see figures).

(Information from StatsCan)

The change was unveiled along with the new Ontario provincial budget as an initiative to get more low-income students to enter post-secondary education. Further details concerning the grant program will be released in the coming months.

The change, projected for 2017, will allow post-secondary students to borrow up to $2,500 more each year.

Principal Daniel Woolf released a statement on Thursday applauding the Ontario government for making important changes to the student assistance program in the new budget.

“Queen’s looks forward to working closely with the government on the implementation of the changes to student assistance over the coming months,” Woolf wrote.

Projections made by the Ontario government are based on whether the federal government delivers on their promises of student aid. The federal government has promised to remove tax credits on education-related goods and services in favour of funding the Canada Student Loan Program.

Reception among student groups have been universally positive. The current AMS executive and executive-elective issued a joint statement welcoming the new budget changes.

“The Government reoriented funds to more upfront forms of aid to reduce the direct price-tag for students in need. This will improve certainty for lower-income students and their families who plan to attend University in Ontario,” the two AMS teams wrote.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) released a press statement praising the Ontario government for adopting own policy suggestions which were included in a document that advocated for OUSA’s specific policy interests.

In the release, OUSA stated that the budget addresses many issues that OUSA has raised and that many of their suggestions have been implemented, including the removal of education tax credits, greater access of financial aid and changes to simplify the new grant system.

Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala told The Journal via email that she had met with Queen’s and St. Lawrence College students, as well as representatives from OUSA, who have been vocal about transforming the financial aid system.

Kiwala said she heard from students she spoke to that post-secondary education is still out of reach for many students from modest means and many of these students graduate with crushing debt.

Kiwala also called the change a bold move to overhaul a complicated system and wrote in an email that the OSG will “guarantee that next fall, many students from low-income and middle-income families will receive free tuition through a much simpler and straightforward process.”

“All students, regardless of background or circumstance, should be able to afford to go to college or university in Ontario and the newly introduced Ontario Student Grant will help make that a reality,” she wrote.

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