OSAP changes raise concerns

On June 24, students at Wilfrid Laurier University received notice that there was a change in the eligibility requirements for the Ontario Students’ Assistance Program (OSAP).

According to the notice, which was sent out via email by Laurier’s student awards office, ‘Post-degree studies’, ‘Qualifying Year studies’ and ‘Unclassified studies’ are no longer considered eligible for OSAP funding.

This is in conjunction with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities directive that states, “OSAP’s regulations state that a program of study must lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.

As a result, qualifying year programs which lead to admission to another program, Post degree programs and students in unclassified studies are involved in education that does not lead directly to a degree, diploma or certificate and as a result, these students can not be considered as eligible for OSAP assistance. It is imperative that the ministry consistently apply the regulations that govern programs.

The above was developed in cooperation with policy.”

According to Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) president Sean Madden, this could mean problems for students.

“I’m a little bit concerned about the language that they use,” he said. “I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to define some of these categories of eligibility. I guess my number one thing is with concern to the qualifying programs. I’m concerned that that might put some groups at a disadvantage.”

Madden also noted that the term ‘unclassified studies’ is also problematic as it is unclear whether or not it applies to students who are in undeclared majors, working towards a general bachelor’s degree.

While this change could affect some students who currently receive OSAP,
Madden believes it will be unlikely that a student could fall into a category that is ineligible for OSAP due to credit deficiencies.

“I wouldn’t think in a situation like that, with a credit shortfall that it would a problem,” he said.

However, Madden is concerned with the potential problems that could arise when it comes to qualifying studies.

He noted that many students need to take ‘bridging courses’ which aren’t directly related towards a degree, however, they set a student up in a position to have a greater chance at moving towards one.

According to Madden, OUSA will be investigating what this restructuring will mean for students in the coming weeks.