Federal government announces six-month grace period on Canadian student loans

Initiative to take effect March 30

OUSA advocated for six-month grace period for student loans in light of COVID-19.
Journal File Photo

In response to uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, the federal government has announced a six-month grace period for interest on Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Association (OUSA) and the College Student Association (CSA) wrote a letter on Mar. 17 appealing to the federal and provincial governments to implement an immediate interest-free grace period on OSAP and CSL repayments for all post-secondary graduates. The next day, the federal government announced an automatic six-month loan holiday program.

“Cat[herine Dunne], the president of OUSA, took initiative and really quarterbacked this effort,” William Greene, AMS vice-president (University Affairs), said in an interview with The Journal.

Dunne and CSA President Jecema Hewitt Vasil signed both letters addressed to Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of Employment, Workforce, Development and Disability; and federal Ahmed Hussen, minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

The six-month grace period granted by the federal government on Canadian student loans will take effect March 30 and extend until September 30.

“I think a six-month period is a really good start,” AMS President Auston Pierce said. “One heartening thing we did see from the federal government is that they didn’t seem opposed to lengthening the grace period.”

The letter submitted by OUSA and CSA also included a proposal that would give students graduating in 2020 an interest-free grace period of two years.

“A two-year grace period is something that OUSA has been advocating for [for] some time,” Greene said. “We think it’s important now more than ever because we don’t know what the economy will look like for our 2020 grads.”

The call to the Ontario government to implement a grace period for OSAP repayments for post-secondary students regardless of when they graduated is still unanswered. According to Pierce, the AMS will maintain core operations despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

“Senior management will be working throughout right up to May 1,” Pierce said.

Pierce added the AMS team will continue to operate on the advice heeded to them by the public health authority. This has meant working from home to practice prescribed social distancing measures.

“We’re putting in as much time as necessary, but things will be different and we’re obviously doing this a lot more remotely,” Pierce said.

He said these measures would pose challenges to the upcoming transition period when incoming AMS executives Jared Den Otter, Alexia Henriques, and Alexandra Samoyloff take over, but that the Society was firm in its resolve to advocate on behalf of its students.

“We hope to see continued support from our governments, especially for our students in such uncertain times,” Greene said.

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