osap cuts 2019

OSAP cuts are more significant than Ontario students anticipated

Ontario post-secondary students’ OSAP grants and loans are quietly changing overnight.

Mark Stockley is one of those students.

The 27-year-old is starting his second-year of marketing management at Ryerson University in September. He received an email yesterday from OSAP letting him know that his loans had been calculated. When he logged in, he saw that his grant had changed too, significantly.

In the 2018-2019 fall/winter semester, Stockley received $6,700 of OSAP grants and $4,800 in loans. His OSAP account now states that for the 2019-2020 fall/winter semester, he will receive $3,700 in grants and $3,800 in loans.

Stockley is receiving 45 per cent less in grants and 21 per cent less in loans than he did last year.

“It’s a giant contrast,” he said.

Stockley will be forced to resort to bank loans. “I’m going to have to make some quality of life changes,” he said. But even that won’t be enough.

The OSAP cuts the provincial government announced in January scrapped free tuition for low-income students and adjusted the grant and loan eligibility guidelines. These changes will come into effect in August 2019.

Regardless of whether a student was receiving OSAP last year, all applications will be reassessed for the upcoming school year.

Elizabeth Boyd, a Ryerson journalism student, will not be receiving a grant this year. Last year, she had a $2,020 grant and $5,000 loan. Now she will only receive a $1,800 loan, based on the OSAP calculator.

“When I originally heard the news, I thought my grant would probably be cut and turned into a loan. I was shocked to see that my loan was cut as well by thousands of dollars,” she said.

Boyd’s mother passed away from brain cancer 12 years ago and her father has been retired since. Her parents were both teachers and she works at the CJRU campus radio station during the year so she still has an income to rely on.

“I can’t imagine what it will be like for others that are worse off than I am,” she said.

Not all students were notified of their OSAP changes. For some, their account balance changed without explanation.

Others thought they were finished paying OSAP fees, but then received a letter stating that their grants “can now be turned into loans” because the new OSAP guidelines changed and their grants were “reassessed.”

The OSAP website explains that all or part of a grant can be converted into a loan if a student stops taking the university or college's minimum course load within the first 30 days of school or if their income cannot be verified within one year.

For students who didn’t report their income, dropped a course, or had any other information on their OSAP application changed, their entire submission will be reassessed at the end of the school year.

Lead photo by

Kevin Taghabon

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