Free Tuition

Free Tuition
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By: Raquel A. Russell
The wide-eyed collective gasp of students could probably be heard around the province. On the first of March, Premiere Kathleen Wynne presented the new Ontario Student Grant (OSG). This grant will bring together smaller grants that exist throughout the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) into ONE plan that students will be able to sign up for.

Arguably, the biggest news to come out of the announcement was the phrase ‘free tuition.’ It’s eye-catching, but there is a bit more to the Ontario Student Grant than free tuition.

In order to help break down the OSG and what it means, the Courier spoke to Jeff Scherer, President of the College Student Alliance; Tanya Blazina, media contact for Minister Reza Moridi of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; and Mark Toljagic, Communications Officer for Centennial College.

1)Students in families with incomes of $50,000 or less
* These individuals will have access to the OSG that will fully cover an average tuition

* Other expenses (i.e. textbooks) will have to be paid for by students.

* The Courier asked Scherer what would happen for post-secondary students if the
grant covering the average cost of tuition was not enough to cover above-average tuitions?

“For 90% of low-income college students – college students from households with an income of $50,000 or less – the grant they receive will be greater than the average tuition cost,” Scherer, president of the CSA.

2) Students in families with incomes of $83,000 or less
* Students in households where the average income is $83,000 or less will also have access
to grants.

* Per the Centennial College announcement, students in this group will “receive non-
repayable grants in excess of average costs” – meaning, if your tuition costs are greater
than average, you will be able to get access to grants that you don’t have to pay back.

3) Students from higher income families
* Tuition fees will either lower or remain the same as they are today. The government hasn’t
fleshed out whether students from higher income families will see the same tuition fees or
if they’ll be lowered.

* In this group, the maximum debt will be capped at $10,000

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: For the first time, financial aid will be available to mature students no matter how long they’ve been outside of school. If you’re married, spousal contribution has also been decreased.

The tuition tax credit and education tax credit will be cancelled in Ontario to fund the 2017 plan. The details on that will be released later this year. In an effort to streamline the grant process and bring more aid to those in need, the Ontario Student Grant appears to be a hopeful step forward, however, as we’ve mentioned, there are still some questions to be answered.

Is there enough money to cover above average university tuitions? Much of the plan is based on the premise of an average undergraduate degree in Arts and Science at $6,160 a year. Many university students in Toronto can easily say that average doesn’t reflect their reality. Not all the details are available yet, as much of the plans for this grant will be examined further as the year goes on.

Tanya Blazina, media contact for the ministry of Training, Universities and Colleges says the immediate next steps for this program is getting the word out.

“Students and families will be aware of the actual amount of government supports they will receive,” Blazina said. “And the net cost of their education well before the start of the school year.”

The Courier will continue to follow-up on the new OSG. Like many of our sources, we hope to have more information for you in the Fall Semester.

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