Have you heard that the Government of Ontario is launching a new program to help undergraduate students offset some of the costs of tuition? The government expects that over 300,000 Ontario students will be eligible to receive it, so check out the information below.
What is the Ontario tuition grant?
The grant will be a non-repayable rebate to help full-time Ontario students offset tuition costs for up to 4 years. The grant will be worth 30 per cent of average tuition fees for first-entry non-professional programs and will increase each year as tuition rises. The grant will be worth $800 for university students and $365 for college students for this winter term.
The grant has now been launched and applications will be available until March 1st for the winter term. If you are enrolling in a spring/summer term, you are eligible to receive an additional $800. Applications for the spring/summer term must be received no later than 30 days prior to the enter of the summer study period. If you have already applied for the winter term, you do not have to submit another application for spring/summer. Applications for the 2012-13 academic year will be available in the spring.
You are eligible for the grant if you meet all of the following criteria:
- A Canadian Citizen, Permanent Resident or Protected Person;
- An Ontario resident (as of the start of your current study period, Ontario is the last province in which you, your spouse or parent resided for 12 consecutive months without being a full-time post-secondary student);
- A full-time student (minimum 60 per cent of a full course-load as defined by your university or college);
- If you are a student with a disability, you are eligible if you are enrolled in minimum 40 per cent of a full course-load.
- Been out of high school for four years or less;
- If you are a student with a disability, you are eligible if you are out of high school for six years or less.
- In satisfactory academic standing;
- In a first-entry program at an Ontario public university or college – this is a program that can be applied to and entered directly from high school – including any first-entry professional program such as engineering, commerce or architecture, but excluding second-entry professional programs (medicine, law, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, veterinary, teacher training);
- Not currently restricted from receiving OSAP due to default, misrepresentation, fraud or second overpayment (students must clear restriction to access grant);
- From a family with a combined parental income before taxes in 2010 of less than $160,000.
The application process is (relatively) simple, so just follow these steps to receive $800 in non-repayable student assistance this year.
Important First Question Before Applying: Are You Currently Receiving OSAP?
Yes: Lucky you! The government has integrated the grant application process into the current Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), meaning that if you are eligible, you will be receiving your money by direct deposit (or cheque if your direct deposit information is not filed) without having to apply or submit any new information. Eligible students should have already received an email telling them that they will be automatically considered for the new grant. Most students can expect to receive their grant by direct deposit in late January or early February. If OSAP needs more information from you to determine your eligibility, you will be contacted directly.
No: You are still eligible for the grant, but you have to apply. There are a few steps, with a few different pieces of information required.
For those who have to apply for the grant:
The grant application is currently live at http://ontario.ca/30off
Before you begin your application, you will need:
- Your Social Insurance Number;
- Your parents’ or guardians’ SIN number(s) (if applicable);
- Line 150 of your parents’ or guardians’ tax form(s).
You can save your online application for up to 45 days. Applicants will be required to get their parents’ or guardians’ signature, as well as sign the form themselves. You or they will need to mail or fax in the completed form to the address below. You can also send the two forms in separately. The application must be submitted by March 31, 2012.
Student Financial Assistance Branch
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
P.O. Box 4500
189 Red River Road, 4th Floor
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6G9
Fax: (807) 343 7278
This year, the grants will be dispersed by cheque to eligible students within 4 to 6 weeks of having received your signed application. We will post the details for next year’s application on this website as soon as we have them.
If you have any other questions, feel free to call the government’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-449-4478. The phone centre will be open from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm from Monday to Friday and 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, until the end of January.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The government has a comprehensive FAQ available here.
How will this grant affect my other financial assistance?
If you meet the above criteria, you will be eligible for the grant whether or not you receive OSAP. However, OSAP students should be aware of the interaction of this new program with the Ontario Access Grants.
If you currently receive the Ontario Access Grant in excess of $1,600 for this academic year, you will not receive additional funds from this program. Those eligible for the Ontario Access Grant at between 30% and 50% of your tuition, the new tuition grant will not come in addition to the funds you receive from these programs. If you currently receive between 25% and 30% of your tuition through the Ontario Access Grant, you will be eligible for a portion of the Ontario tuition grant to top-up your grant to the full 30%. That is the total you will be able to receive this term from the Ontario Access Grant and the Ontario tuition grant combined is $800.
Because this is a new grant and not an outright tuition reduction, the grant should not impact your current eligibility for any tuition or education tax credits.
Additionally, if you currently receive a Textbook & Technology Grant, this will be the last year this grant is available. Starting September 2012, this program will be phased out in order to help fund the new tuition grant program. In addition, the Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top scholarships are being phased out, but current recipients will continue to receive funds for the remainder of their degree programs, providing they continue to meet the academic requirements of the scholarship. However, no new applications for the scholarships will be accepted.
What will happen with tuition fees?
Those students eligible for the new grant will see a reduction in their fees. However, tuition fees will continue to increase thereafter, as it will for students ineligible for the grant. The government has announced its intention to continue regulating fee increases to no more than 5% annually, as it does now, but has not publically declared the percentage increase that will be allowed.
OUSA’s position is that if tuition increases must continue, these increases should not exceed the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). We will be continuing to advocate for a reduction in tuition increases in light of this new grant program.
How is the government paying for this?
This program is expected to cost approximately $420 million upon full implementation. OUSA was disappointed to see that part of this cost is being recovered by the elimination of three other student aid programs:
- the Ontario Trust for Student Support (a $25 million fund that matched donated institutional scholarships and bursaries)
- the Textbook and Technology Grant (a $39 million program that provided $150 each year in non-repayable assistance to all OSAP recipients)
- the Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship (a $31 million scholarship program with 15,000 recipients)
In addition, $100 million is expected to be recovered by providing fewer provincial grants and loans as a result of the new program’s interaction with existing grants and debt relief.