Why paying for tuition no longer means carrying a pesky monkey on your back

Did you know, starting this September, students with financial need from families with incomes of less than $50,000 per year will have average tuition fully covered by the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)?  And middle-income students will also receive more generous OSAP grants and loans to help with the costs of a postsecondary education.

In fact, the Ontario government estimates the new OSAP changes will provide free average tuition to more than 210,000 students in 2017 and that 230,000 students will graduate with less debt, according to Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

That’s why OSAP has just launched the “Get the monkey off your back” campaignPhoto of monkey by high school lockers, with text overlaid reading, "Worried about paying for your postsecondary education?" – to introduce the latest changes to the program and to let students and their families know there is help with tuition. Under these changes, students could be eligible for free tuition or other benefits that help reduce the burden many Ontario students and their families have been faced with.

The campaign also features a video that ends with the tagline “worried about paying for your postsecondary education? Get the monkey off your back” and prompts viewers to visit ontario.ca/osap. There, you can learn more about the new program changes and funding available to help pay for your education.

Deb Matthews holds stuffed OSAP monkeyStudents want in

Although Ontarians are more likely than anyone one else in the OECD to have postsecondary education, currently in the province, students from the lowest-income families are about four times less likely to go on to postsecondary education than those from the highest-income families.

So it’s no surprise that the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews recently stated that after just a few short days of having opened up acceptance of OSAP applications, the province  received approximately 9,000 applications for the 2017-2018 school year – That number stood at approximately 1,500 applications at the same time last year. Modernizing and simplifying the system makes it easier for all to see that postsecondary education is within reach.

Here are just a few ways the new OSAP will benefit students, families and the highly skilled workforce of tomorrow:Post of student with a stuffed monkey on his back. Text overlaid reads "Tuition doesn't have to be a monkey on your back."

  • By combining student grants and loans to form a hybrid Ontario Student Grant program, for families with incomes under $50,000 – tuition is free. This creates accessibility to postsecondary education for so many people.
  • The province says that for the 2017/2018 enrolment, average tuition for students will be free for parents earning less than $50,000, and almost-free for children of parents bringing home less than $83,000.
  • Even for those who earn more, the new OSAP is there to help with generous grants that will make college or university more affordable. For parents with an income of $103,000, for example, there will be more access to interest-free loans.
  • The new Ontario Student Grant program means about 80 per cent of all OSAP recipients will graduate with less debt, and mature students will qualify for more grants so they can return to school to upgrade their skills.

An easy way to do the math

Not sure how much you are eligible for? The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has launched a new online calculator for a quick and simple way to determine how much OSAP funding students and families can receive, and how many grants they would qualify for.

Graphic on the new OSAP reads, "See how much you can get at ontario.ca/osap. Free Tuition for eligible students."

Some examples of how it works:

  • According to the calculator, students who plan to go away to university, and whose parents make $50,000 a year will qualify for $8,700 in grant money and a loan of $7,100.
  • A student whose parents earn $150,000 a year will qualify for a $2,000 grant and a loan of $4,400.
  • If you are a single parent, have three children and earn $60,000 a year, for example, the new OSAP calculator will tell you that you are eligible for more than $16,000 of non-repayable aid, making tuition free.

This means all qualified students in Ontario, regardless of their financial situation, will have a fair shot at their dreams—at an education that will help promote lifelong learning and innovation, jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.