Ontario expands eligibility with Tuition Grant
5,000 additional students can now apply for Ontario’s 30 per cent Tuition Grant who were previously ineligible.
Brad Duguid, the minister of training, colleges and universities, announced an expansion of the program on Monday to accommodate students who are in their final year of a five-year co-op program.
“Ontario leads the world when it comes to post-secondary attainment,” the minister said Monday morning at the University of Waterloo. “And we want to ensure students have access to their post-secondary education.”
The previous criteria for the grant required students to be four years or less out of high school. This meant that students who were enrolled in a five-year co-op program could not access the rebate during their last year.
“I’m going to graduate soon so unfortunately I won’t fit into it,” said Stéphane Hamade, a UW math and business student who is also in his final year of study. “But now students in my situation will be getting the 30 per cent.”
Duguid said that the idea for the program extension came from student leaders and postsecondary education advocacy groups in the province.
A strong advocate for the change was John Milloy, the MPP for Kitchener-Centre and former minister of training, colleges and universities.
“I hope that when students see post-secondary education they only worry about the program there and they don’t worry about finances,” Milloy said.
“I want them to know there is a whole range of support.”
However, some restrictions still apply in spite of the new expansion.
“This rebate goes to families that are all lower-to-middle income families,” Duguid said. “Students who qualify for OSAP would be eligible for this; the cut-off point is $160,000 ranged families, but it does increase with inflation so it is a little higher than that now.”
When asked about whether fifth-year students who are not co-op students can apply for the same 30 per cent rebate, the Minister explained that there were “limits as to how far [the province] can go for that.”
“There are other areas where we can expand this program to, the challenges are always costly and this is a very costly program,” he said.
“We’re already spending about a billion dollars a year when it comes to OSAP, the 30 per cent off program and other programs for students.”
Milloy also weighed into the question on restrictions with the expansion.
“We designed it as best we could to examine any anomalies that existed and have recognized that not every student is covered,” Milloy added.
Stephen Franchetto, the vice president of finance for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) explained that his association would like to see more eligibility expansions for Aboriginal students and students with disabilities and dependents.
“Those groups of students are statistically going to take longer to completion than the average student, so their eligibility we’ve been pushing for awhile to expand as well,” he said.
230,000 students are currently eligible for the original 30 per cent rebate from the province.
The University of Waterloo notably has one of the largest student co-op programs in North America, with 62 per cent of undergraduate students enrolled in over 120 co-op partnerships.
“The University of Waterloo is front and center when it comes to co-op programs,” Duguid said. “I felt that this was the best place to make the announcement.”
The Tuition Grant expansion is effective as of Jan. 1. Students who are currently in their final year of a full-time five-year co-op program will be able to apply for the grant immediately.