The Honourable Ross Romano
Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
5th Floor, 438 University Ave
Toronto, ON M7A 2A5
Dear Minister Romano,
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the College Student Alliance (CSA) are writing in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the ability of Ontarians to make OSAP loan and interest payments.
Premier Doug Ford has stated that, “we are facing an unprecedented time in our history” and the province has taken important steps to protect the health and safety of Ontarians. Legislation was introduced to protect workers, $304 million was committed to enhance the province’s response, and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has been working with post-secondary institutions to ensure that there are response plans for academic continuity.
However, these measures, while necessary, do not address the challenge Ontario’s post-secondary graduates will face in making OSAP repayments as a result of the income barriers that COVID-19 presents. We are, therefore, calling on the provincial government to implement an immediate interest-free grace period on OSAP loan repayments for all post-secondary graduates, regardless of when they completed their post-secondary education. This grace period should remain in effect until one month after social distancing recommendations are lifted. During this period, no interest should accrue on OSAP loans and graduates should not be required to make loan or interest payments. This measure would help ensure that Ontarians with OSAP loans are able to meet their financial obligations during and after the COVID-19 public health crisis.
We are also calling on the provincial government to implement an immediate two-year, interest-free grace period for all students graduating in 2020. Given these uncertain financial times, many students will be unable to find jobs upon graduating this year. A two-year, interest-free grace period will ensure that students have time to find employment following this emergency and will allow them to stabilize their financial situations before interest payments begin to accrue.
Finally, we are calling on the provincial government to advocate to the federal government to implement the measures recommended above on the federal portion of all OSAP loans.
OUSA’s ongoing stance on OSAP interest payments is that the provincial government should implement a two-year grace period to ensure that students are in a financial position to cover their loan and interest payments. However, in these extenuating circumstances, we are asking for this emergency grace period as an immediate step to ease the financial burden for students. To learn more about OUSA’s stance on student loans and interest payments, please consult our Student Financial Aid policy.
It is crucial that the provincial government continue to respond to the needs of Ontarians during this time. On behalf of the 150,000 undergraduate students that OUSA represents and the 55,000 college students that CSA represents, we urge you to consider our recommendation to implement an immediate interest-free grace period on OSAP loan repayments.
Catherine Dunne, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
Jecema Hewitt Vasil, President of the College Student Alliance