It’s at a very interesting time that the province has decided to open Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans the earliest that applications have ever been open.
The province recently released a statement saying that OSAP applications are now open for the 2018-2019 school year. That’s right, OSAP applications are now open for post-secondary students seeking loans.
This is all well and good, and in fact, it’s the earliest launch of OSAP applications ever, so students will be able to get a head start on asking the province for student loans to pay their way through school.
“Students can apply for free tuition earlier than ever,” said the province. “This year, more than 210,000 full-time university and college students are receiving free tuition for the first time ever.”
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This early launch of OSAP applications is a whopping four months earlier than the application is usually launched, and the province has seen applications up by almost 20 per cent for the 2017-2018 school year.
“Almost all students who receive OSAP get some or all of their funding as a grant — money they will never have to pay back.”
This is no secret – when the province announced free tuition for many students, students who had graduated mourned the fact that they’d lost out on such an incredible and absolutely necessary initiative, while students going into college or university or who had at least a year left of school rejoiced.
What’s more is for the part of the loan that students will be required to pay back, students will not have to start repaying the Ontario portion of their student loans until they are earning a minimum of $35,000 a year, a $10,000 increase from the previous minimum of $25,000.
Paying for school is hard enough as is.
But it’s admittedly quite interesting that the province has opened applications during the massive college strike, full details on which you can find here. At a time when some faculty are fighting for their rights with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) – the union representing striking workers – and students have been out of class for about a month, the province seems to be thinking ahead to the next school year.
This vote is scheduled to take place from Tuesday, Nov. 14 to Thursday, Nov. 16 and OPSEU is advising its members to vote no and reject the colleges’ offer.
“The contract offer put forward by the College Employer Council on November 6 is a bad one for faculty – and the students we teach. It entrenches inequity and takes us backwards on academic freedom,” OPSEU wrote in a recent statement.
OPSEU says the offer allows the colleges to continue to favour contract and non-full time employees with restriction, to avoid paying “equal pay for equal work” for contract faculty, decreasing the percentage of full-time jobs in colleges and more.
“The colleges have forced a vote on an offer that is filled with concessions and still does nothing to address academic freedom,” OPSEU says. “The best way for the colleges to reach a collective agreement is to negotiate, not to force a vote on an offer that has already been rejected by the faculty bargaining team. We will Vote NO because it will make the colleges stronger, better for students, and better for the next generation.
While none of this will likely satisfy worried students, those concerned about the financial impact of the strike might be happy to be reminded that the province is creating something of a “hardship fund” for students adversely affected by the disruption.
All in all, it’s still a good thing that anyone planning to be in school from 2018-2019 can get a head start on applying for student loans and vying for free tuition.
Students who want to apply for OSAP can click here.