What you should know about the Government of Ontario’s “Free Tuition Grant”

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By Morganne King-Wale,
Program Development and Evaluation Coordinator,
at Immigrants Working Centre

On March 14, 2016, the Government of Ontario released their 2016 Budget. As part of the budget, the government announced changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and grant options for college and university students in Ontario. Included in those changes is the new Ontario Student Grant, which is designed to provide more support to low-income and economically vulnerable students. The Government of Ontario estimates that 150,000 Ontario students will have their tuition costs covered under the new Ontario Student Grant. This means that almost half of Ontario’s post-secondary school students will be granted enough money at the start of their school year to cover most or all of their tuition costs, reducing the financial burden on students.
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Photo by pixabay.com

What you should know about the new Ontario Student Grant

1. It won’t be available until 2017/2018 School year

Grants and loans currently available through OSAP will continue to be available to Ontario post-secondary students for the 2016/2017 school year. The new Ontario Student Grant will not be available to students until the start of the 2017/2018 school year.

2. It provides money up front at the start of the school year

When students apply, they find out immediately how much funding they will receive through the grant. The grant money is applied immediately to students’ tuition expenses and the student will see a final total of what they owe, if anything, after the grant money is applied to their tuition cost.

3. It bundles all existing Ontario government grant funds into a single grant

Under the new Ontario Student Grant, all previous grant funds offered through OSAP will now be bundled together under the Ontario Student Grant. This new grant includes one hundred percent of the Ontario Tuition Grant, the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant, Ontario Access Grant, and other Ontario grants. Under the new grant system students will only have to complete a single grant application in order to be considered for the available funding.

4. It makes receiving grants easier for married and mature students

The grant will no longer take into account the number of years a student has been outside of high school in calculating eligibility. In addition, the expected amount of a spouse’s contribution to the student’s education has been reduced.

5. It’s dependent on a federal government promise

During the federal election, the Liberal party pledged to increase the federal Canada Student Grant for low-income students by 50%. This hasn’t been approved at the federal level yet, but the proposed change was included in the calculations for the Ontario Student Grant. This means that if the federal government does not uphold this funding promise, some Ontario students will have to pay more in their educational costs.

Who can apply?

The same eligibility requirements for OSAP apply for the proposed Ontario Student Grant. If you are a permanent resident, convention refugee, or citizen who has been living in Ontario for at least 12 months, or are married to or a dependent of someone who is a permanent resident, convention refugee, or citizen that has been living in Ontario for at least 12 months, you can apply for the Ontario Student Grant starting for the 2017/2018 school year.

How is the new grant different from the old grants?

Here are some examples that show how the Ontario Student Grant will provide funding to different people.

Free tuition


Where to learn more:

Check the OSAP website and the information on the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities for updates and further information on when and how to apply to the grants for the 2017/2018 school year. If you’re in college or university already, you can also talk to your school’s financial aid office to learn more about this new grant system.