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Ontario government to give free tuition to low income students

Kerra Seay | Interrobang | News | March 7th, 2016

As part of the new budget the Ontario government will be giving students from low income families free tuition in an effort to make post-secondary education more accessible.

The changes will be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.

The funding for these grants will come from grants that already exist including the Ontario Tuition Grant, Ontario Student Opportunity Grant, Ontario Access Grants and more. The National Post reported that the Ontario government spends around $1.3 billion a year awarding grants to post-secondary students.

Students can access these grants when they apply for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

According to a Government of Ontario press release this program will target those with the greatest financial need, or students whose family has a combined income of less than $50,000, will receive this aid.

Students who qualify for these grants will graduate with no provincial student debt. Additionally students whose families have a combined income of less than $83,000 will see an increase in the amount of grant money they receive.

The press release emphasized that no students will be penalized due to these changes, and that their situations will either improve or stay the same.

Some other changes included increasing the access to interest-free or low-cost loans for middle and upper income families, expanding support for mature and married students and raising the weekly assistance maximum levels. Eligibility will also no longer be tied to age or the number of years a student has been out of high school.

The press release said that seven out of 10 new jobs in Canada will require a post-secondary education. It added that Ontarians with higher levels of education and skills have better employment prospects, earn higher wages and have improved health and longevity.

“By supporting students from low and middle-income families as they pursue a university degree or college diploma, our government is helping to build the highly skilled workforce that will generate economic growth, improve social mobility and create long-term, sustainable prosperity for our province,” said Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne in a press release.

Reza Moridi, the minister of training, Colleges and Universities, said this is a “tremendous day” for students and their families.

“All students should be able to afford to go to college or university in Ontario,” he said. “This transformative grant will be more generous and more straightforward, breaking down barriers that might be preventing Ontarians from getting a postsecondary education while continuing to help students who are currently benefiting from important grant support.”

Ontario has been known for having the most expensive post-secondary education costs in the country, but hopefully the new changes will make education more accessible for all students.
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