Joint Press Release: Students respond to the Auditor General's Report

December 5th, 2018

 

TORONTO, ON - Students recognize the Auditor General’s report on the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) this afternoon. The availability of student financial assistance is critical for many Ontarians who pursue college or university. Students believe that investments in the future of this province should be protected, and that the hundreds of thousands of families accessing OSAP in each corner of this province should continue to reap the benefits of education.

 

Students welcome many of the Auditor General’s recommendations, including improving the tracking and reporting of access to post-secondary education (PSE) for students who are Indigenous, mature, low-income, and students with disabilities, to improve the access of these groups. Additionally, students believe the provincial government can do more to modernize OSAP. Students currently face challenges with OSAP obtainment and repayment because of the lack of technology in the processing systems. By working with students, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities could better, and more efficiently, serve students by utilizing technology rather than outdated systems.

 

In response to the Auditor General’s report, students also want to emphasize the importance of the Ontario Student Assistance Program. 24 per cent more university students and 27 per cent more college students are accessing OSAP, indicating a clear need for this program.

 

The OSAP transformation in 2016 was recommended by students, particularly from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the College Student Alliance (CSA). The recommendation from students was practical - to repurpose $365 million in tax credits to upfront grants for students who need it most. The changes to OSAP were made possible through that repurposing of provincial dollars first, before additional investment. With the increased awareness of financing available to students, the program has grown to support 80,000 more individual students.

 

Debt repayment provisions are another important part of student support. Students believe in a fair structure of repayment on loans, while also understanding that the 6-month grace period and the Repayment Assistance Program ensure graduates have the economic means to pay back their loans. Students want to contribute to the economy and to society after graduation, but can not do so if burdened by their student loans.

 

Facts about student financial assistance:

 

  • The amount of students receiving any OSAP funds was 198,145 in 2015-16 before the OSAP transformation, and 240,033 in 2017-18 with the current OSAP transformation at universities.
  • The COISL (OSAP Loan) Default Rate for university students is only 3.6 per cent and 9.8 per cent for college students.
  • Average domestic tuition for university students in Ontario is $8,800 - the highest in Canada.
  • The average repayable OSAP debt is $23,500 for university graduates.

 

Quotes:

 

“The current model of OSAP shows the province’s commitment that education is a right, and not a privilege. We need to continue supporting a program that is providing relief for students who need it the most.” - Danny Chang, OUSA President and student at Western University

 

“Affordable and accessible post-secondary education is necessary for students to thrive. We must continue investing in the future of Ontario’s economy - students - to ensure our province maintains a highly-skilled workforce.” - Brittany Greig, CSA President and Conestoga Students Inc. Vice President, External

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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.

 

CSA advocates on behalf of Ontario college students in partnership with student leaders. Through 12 member student associations, CSA represents the collective voice of Ontario's college students.

 

Contact:

Sophie Helpard

Executive Director

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

416-341-9948

ed@ousa.ca

 

Emmaline Scharbach

Communications Manager

College Student Alliance

416-340-1212

communications@collegestudentalliance.ca