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Ford Government announces changes to postsecondary education

The Ontario government is pulling down university and college tuition rates by 10 per cent over the 2019-20 academic year an attempt to curb education costs.

Merrilee Fullerton. Photo/ Merrilee Fullerton Twitter

“By lowering tuition across the entire province, our government is ensuring that all qualified Ontario students will have more affordable access to high quality skills, training and education,” said Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. The plan to make post-secondary education more affordable also includes reforming the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), which will allocate most of its resources to students in low-income families.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFSO), on the other hand, is less concerned about the tuition decrease and more concerned about the Ontario government’s post-secondary education cuts, including a 4 per cent cut in institutional funding, a reduction in non-repayable grants for students, and the elimination of the 6-month grace period following graduation for students with OSAP loans.

Universities and colleges are also expected to accommodate the new tuition rates without compensation and may be forced to trim from important student support programs and from quality of education. Despite this, Northwestern Ontario looks to be on the safe side. A news release from Confederation College details that core operating grants will be maintained and that a fund for northern institutions will be established to address the North’s unique needs. Students, however, are less enthusiastic.

“There’s got to be a better way,” said Alex Bobay. Bobay, who is on a 3-month placement at DHS to complete her diploma from Cambrian College in Sudbury, spoke about the repercussions the new OSAP requirements might have for future students. “10 per cent is only $400 off your [$4000] tuition, whereas OSAP is your grants and your eligibility… you’re losing thousands of dollars rather than getting [$400] off.”

Post-secondary students often rely on grants and OSAP loans not only for tuition but also for books and housing, and if a student does not meet the new standards they will have a hard time paying regardless of the 10 per cent reduction. “If you’re in that mid-income bracket then you’re not getting anything, so that group of students might not go to post-secondary because they rely on that… For me, if I didn’t get OSAP, I probably wouldn’t have gone,” said Bobay.

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