Tuition grant within reach

A large majority of students are looking forward to the end of January in order to receive the 30 per cent tuition grant Premier Dalton McGuinty promised during this past provincial election.

Last October, while every political party aimed to include improvements to post-secondary education within their platforms, the liberal party proposed an offer much too good to refuse. They projected a 30 per cent tuition grant, that would give students financial aid towards their tuition, which did not have to be reimbursed. The grant applies to full-time, dependent students in Ontario colleges or universities whose family’s income totals less than $160,000 a year.

“That’s about $730 for each college student and $1,600 for each university student,” said Kitchener-Waterloo Liberal MPP candidate in the 2011 election, Eric Davis. “That was stated before and that will continue to be the case.”

About 85 per cet of dependent students, or around 320,000 college and university students, qualify for this grant. As well, students who are receiving OSAP are eligible for the grant as well.

“If people are already enrolled in OSAP, and if you’re eligible for the rebate, you’ll automatically get the rebate,” Davis explained. “There will be an automatic computer credit based on their OSAP application and that will happen in time for the second installment of their tuition.”

For those who do not automatically register, there will be an easy to use website up and running later this month to register.

In a November interview with Sean Madden, president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), he explained, “Because of payment processes and timelines it’ll have to be a reimbursement [process] for the first bit. But we expect it to be fully functional September 2012.”

Madden could not divulge more information currently, until the provincial government releases more information.

“There is an announcement coming,” he said. “But I’m not allowed to speak to the details. We’ve been working closely with the government and we do have it hammered out,” he said. “I think people are going to be pleased with it.”

Davis seconded the need for confidentiality for the time being when he said, “The details will be released by the provincial government shortly. But I can tell you that I believe [a website and details] will be by mid-January.”

According to Davis, “The program is expected to cost the government $201 million in 2012 and at least $423 million a year afterward.”

When asked how the government could afford such an expense during such an unstable time in today’s economy, Davis explained, “It really is an investment in students but it’s a key investment especially when times are bad.

“[It can help to] make sure that people can still get a good education and it’s in Ontario’s long-term best interest to remain competitive. A way to keep being competitive is to have a highly-skilled and educated workforce.”

According to the Waterloo Region Record, the Tories were quoted as saying a government facing a $16-billion deficit should not be launching such an expensive program. However Davis countered any doubt by referencing the Liberal platform.

“The Conservative platform had a $14 billion hole in it,” he said. “They were basically saying that they weren’t going to cut anything but they were also going to lower taxes which just didn’t add up.”

In contrast, the Liberal platform, according to Davis, had a very small number of promises and a very targeted number of commitments. The tuition grant was the key commitment in the Liberal platform.

As well, he mentioned that the New Democratic platform, if actually implemented, would have cost the government billions of dollars. In other words, no matter what party ended up leading Ontario, a deficit would have been acquired.

However, though the tuition grant may cost the government millions, it will help make post secondary education more accessible to students, which was a problem that every party noted in their platforms.

“I’m incredibly pleased,” said Davis, “That they’re following through on the promise and that students are going to get some financial relief.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publication.

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