Most students called ineligible for tuition rebates
WindsorStar.com – news
January 4, 2012. By Rebecca Wright, The Windsor Star
About two-thirds of post-secondary students are ineligible for tuition rebates introduced this month by the provincial Liberals, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.
“There are a lot of exclusions to the grant that really don’t make sense,” CFS chairwoman for Ontario Sandy Hudson said Tuesday.
She said the province is refusing to make changes to the policy even though most students are ineligible.
The Ontario Tuition Grant is a new rebate effective Jan. 5 that offsets tuition costs for dependent full-time undergraduate students within four years of graduating high school. The annual rebate is $730 for each college student and $1,600 for each university student from families with incomes under $160,000 a year.
Although the Liberal government said more than 300,000 will benefit from the rebate program, the CFS said there are too many students that it does not apply to. Hudson said less than 50 per cent of all students in the university sector and one-third of college students will benefit.
The CFS presented a petition to the legislature signed by 40,000 students proposing that the $423-million to be spent annually on the rebate program be applied to all tuition fees. This would reduce tuition costs for everyone by nearly 15 per cent, Hudson said, adding the current application process to determine who is eligible is elaborate and also costly.
David Raymont, director of communication for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, defended the program.
“The new Ontario tuition grant is progressive,” he said. “It provides help to families and students who are most in need.”
MPP Teresa Piruzza (L – Windsor West) said there are other grants available for students who are excluded from the tuition rebate.
“We actually have one of the most generous assistance programs in the country,” Piruzza said. “There are a number of different types of grants and assistance that are available that open the doors to those people that may not be eligible for this program but may be eligible for another program.”
Piruzza does not foresee any changes to the program but Matt Caron, St. Clair College Student Representative Council president, said there are some “tweaks” that need to be made.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction but hopefully within the next year or two, there are less restrictions on applying for it,” he said. “But as of right now, any money off for students is fantastic and hopefully with the years to come it just gets better and better for students.”
Andre Capaldi, president of the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance, said he believes the grant will improve accessibility and help reduce the stress students are under.
“I think it’s going to do wonders for the students here at the University of Windsor and I really commend the government for making post-secondary education a priority,” Capaldi said. “And I think many students at the University of Windsor are going to see a positive impact in their lives because of it.”
Capaldi, a member of the Ontario Young Liberals, said he is “overwhelmingly in support” of the new program and said he does not anticipate much criticism from students.
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