The Ontario Student Assistance Program can assist students seeking to cover education costs. Especially if they’re planning to attend college or university in the coming year. You may be wondering how to afford it.
Tuition doesn’t come cheap in Canada. Tuition has been steadily increasing at a rate above inflation for decades. According to StatsCan, the average tuition fees for a full-time student in Ontario went up 3.7 percent for undergraduate students in the 2018/2019 school year.
The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) can help. In this article, we’ll look at what OSAP is, who is eligible for OSAP, how to apply for it, how to go about receiving it, maintaining your student loan, and the grace period.
What is OSAP?
OSAP is short of the Ontario Student Assistance Program. It’s the way that the Government of Ontario offers financial aid to both part-time and full-time students in Ontario.
The program’s goal is to help students who show a financial need to get the funds that they need to pay for post-secondary education costs.
The province of Ontario has signed on to the Student Access Guarantee. This guarantee promises that a lack of funds will not stop any qualified student in Ontario from attending college or university.
OSAP cannot take the place of the financial resources that you already have. Instead, it complements them. The government still expects you to contribute what you can afford towards your education. It’s only in extreme poverty cases where the Government of Ontario will cover the entire cost of your education.
If you’re finding OSAP inadequate to fund your post-secondary education, there are other financial aid programs you can check out, including bursaries, grants, and scholarships.
Am I Eligible for OSAP?
OSAP is administered together with the Canada Student Loans Program. As a recipient of OSAP, you’ll receive a Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan funded by the Government of Canada and Ontario. To be eligible for this loan, you must meet several criteria, including you must:
- Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a protected person.
- Enroll in a college or university approved by the government in a program with a study period lasting 12 weeks or longer.
- Have a minimum of a 60 percent course load or 40 percent if you have a permanent disability.
- You have to remain in good academic standing.
- If you previously received a student loan, it has to be in good standing.
- Only receive a total of 340 weeks of funding in your lifetime (400 weeks if you’re working towards a doctorate).
- Be an Ontario resident. That means you’ve either lived in Ontario your entire life or Ontario is the last province where you’ve lived for 12 months without attending college or university.
If you’re taking a course load less than 60 percent of a full course load, in that case, you’re considered a part-time student. You won’t receive the Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan, but you can still apply as a part-time student to the Canada Student Loans Program.
Applying for OSAP
Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible to receive OSAP, then you can go about actually applying for it.
There are two methods for applying for OSAP. You can do it online or on paper forms. The online application through the OSAP website is by far the easiest way. Not only do you save trees, you also don’t have to pay an application fee. Furthermore, you’ll get an immediate estimate about how much you’re eligible to receive.
It’s best to apply as soon as possible for OSAP. If you’re waiting for an acceptance letter from the college or university of your choosing, you can wait until that arrives. However, nothing is stopping you from applying more than once. It’s a good idea to apply at least 10 weeks before your program starts to ensure you receive your funding on time.
There are other financial assistance programs that you may be eligible for when applying for OSAP. These included bursaries, grants, and scholarships. For example, the Ontario Bursary Program offers a maximum of $2,500 annually to students with low family income.
Receiving OSAP Funds
If you completed the application online, you could check the OSAP website to see its status. The website will let you know where exactly your application is in process. You’ll want to check this fairly regularly as there may be important outstanding documents that you missed submitting.
OSAP is usually paid out twice a semester. It’s typically done at the start of the semester and the end of the semester. To receive these funds, you’ll need to make sure you completed the Confirmation of Enrolment Form and provided any other required documents.
Don’t forget to take the Loan Certificate from the financial aid office at your college or university to the closest Canada Post outlet or NSLSC kiosk. Otherwise, you may not receive the money.
Maintaining Your Student Loan
The National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) looks after the Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan that you receive. If there are any changes concerning your financial or academic standing, it’s important to let the NSLSC know right away.
As a full-time student, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario will help you by paying your student loan interest. However, if you’re only attending college or university part-time, you’ll have to pay the interest yourself.
To give you some time to find a job after graduation, the Government of Ontario gives you a grace period. You don’t need to make any payments on your loan as a full-time student during this time. However, keep in mind that interest will still accumulate during this time. Also, for part-time students, you’ll need to pay the interest on your student loan.
The Ontario student loan process can be complicated. Do you need some help navigating the government bureaucracy? Call us today, and we’ll be happy to walk you through the steps so that you can get the financing you need.
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