How is Ontario Taking the Guesswork Out of Financial Aid?

Apr 12, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Applying for financial aid can sometimes feel like shooting in the dark: How do you know whether you’ll qualify and for how much? The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is taking a giant step toward improved transparency thanks to a revamped financial assistance program set to debut in September of 2017, according to Maclean’s. Here’s a closer look at what to expect.

The New Rules

According to the new OSAP rules, all students -- including both “mature students” and “adult learners” will qualify for free tuition as long as their family income is less than approximately $50,000 a year. Students with children will also be eligible for child care cost support, while students from higher income families will see more grant and loan opportunities.

Said Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development issues manager Sean Greson, “The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is available for all types of full-time post-secondary students including mature students, married students, students with children and students dependent on their parents. Eligibility for the new OSAP grant will not depend on the number of years out of high school or program level.”

Do You Qualify?

The new OSAP will be responsive to family size, which may leave some students wondering whether they qualify. To that end, the province has launched a new online resource aimed at giving students an instant determination regarding whether they are eligible for free tuition or grants. Just answer a few simple questions about your situation and financial resources, and you’ll instantly receive a thorough breakdown of the amount of money you may get.

A Promising Outlook

According to Maclean’s, the new and improved OSAP program could benefit as many as 150,000 qualifying Ontarians with profound financial implications:  “In 2014-2015 alone, Ontario issued almost $1.3 billion in grants and loans to students,” reveals Maclean’s. “In the long term, these OSAP changes mean that more than 80% of all those who receive OSAP will graduate with less provincial debt—a great value for low and middle-income Canadians and their families.”

Read more about studying in Canada.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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