One-third of Ontario college and university students receive free tuition grants

TheStar.com – News/Queen’s Park – Province says applications for student aid are up 10 per cent over last year because of new student aid program.
Sept. 11, 2017.   By

More than 210,000 Ontario students are going to college or university tuition-free this school year — roughly one-third of those who study full-time — under a new provincial financial aid program that covers fees for those from lower-income families.

And applications for OSAP, the provincial aid system, are up 10 per cent over last year — or more than 50,000 students.

“This is far greater than we expected,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, in a telephone interview following a visit to Ottawa’s Algonquin College. “So we are absolutely thrilled to have 50,000 more applicants this year than last year at this time. We are very, very pleased with the increase.”

While the government does not yet have a firm dollar figure on the final cost, “that is the commitment we made to students — it’s a great problem to have. Our commitment is that every student who is eligible will get the support they need,” she said. “We will figure out a way to make that happen.”

When it was announced, the government said axing tax credits for tuition and education would save $145 million this year, enough to cover the expected costs for 2017-18.

The free tuition grants are part of a number of changes to the student assistance program, which makes mature students eligible for the first time, and also requires repayment only after grads are earning $35,000 a year, up from the current $25,000.

The government is now providing students with aid money up front, before tuition bills arrive, for families earning less than $50,000. Some 70 per cent of those students were expected to receive more in grants than average university tuition rates.

About half of students from homes earning $83,000 were also to receive more than they’ll pay in tuition.

The government is also opening OSAP applications for the 2018-19 school year early — in November — to help students to plan ahead for college and university.

Critics have the said the Liberals aren’t putting any more money into post-secondary, but rather just moving funds around, and note that Ontario has the highest university tuition rates in the country.

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/09/11/one-third-of-ontario-college-and-university-students-receive-free-tuition.html

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