OUSA Releases Report on Student Financial Assistance in Ontario

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is proud to announce the release of Paying Our Way: A Look at Student Financial Assistance Usage in Ontario, the fourth report of the 2014 What Students Want Report Series. In November 2013, OUSA launched its biennial Ontario Post-Secondary Student Survey and received approximately 9,000 responses to a series of 140 post-secondary related questions. Paying Our Way: A Look at Student Financial Assistance Usage in Ontario examines the ways in which undergraduates in Ontario are funding their university education.

“In 2013, 60 per cent of students surveyed applied for OSAP, with 84 per cent of those who applied successfully qualifying,” said Jen Carter, OUSA President and Vice-President External for the University Students’ Council (USC) of Western University. “Although it’s heartening to hear that many students with financial need are able to access government assistance, it’s clear from our survey responses that Ontario’s financial assistance system fails to provide adequate aid to an alarming number of students.”

Where existing government financial assistance programs were unable to meet an individual’s financial need, students often turned to private sources of funding. OUSA’s survey revealed that 16 per cent of students applied for private bank loans or lines of credit in 2013, receiving an average loan amount of $10,770. Mature students applied for private funding at rates double the provincial average, with 39 per of mature students students doing so.

Paying Our Way: A Look at Student Financial Assistance Usage in Ontario also breaks down financial assistance usage for additional student groups. Notably, the report finds that students from underrepresented groups access loans, grants, and bursaries at differing rates from the general population.

“While it may come as no surprise that students from low-income backgrounds access financial assistance at higher rates than the general population, OUSA’s survey found that certain underrepresented student populations access government financial assistance at lower rates,” said Stéphane Hamade, OUSA Vice-President Finance and Vice-President Education at the University of Waterloo’s Federation of Students (Feds). “Aboriginal students, students with disabilities, and students with dependant family members actually apply for OSAP at rates lower than the average in Ontario despite having higher financial need. This may suggest that more can be done to break down informational barriers regarding student financial assistance programs for those students who would benefit most from financial aid.”

To read Paying Our Way: A Look at Student Financial Assistance Usage in Ontario, click here.