Ontario Budget 2016 – Ontario Student Grant
Graduate students across Ontario are pleased after the government announced funding changes for students. The new Ontario Student Grant will provide up-front, non-repayable grants to students including those in graduate programs. Students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less will have free tuition and the cost of a college or university education will be more affordable for middle-class families.
In pre-Budget consultations this year, the Ontario Graduate Students’
Alliance (OGSA) pressed hard for a financial aid and student support system that didn’t leave graduate students behind. The Ontario Student Grant is a step in the right direction.
"The Ontario Graduate Students’ Alliance applauds the Government’s investment in improving the access and affordability of higher education,” said Chris Hyde, Executive Director of the OGSA. “Targeted grants for students from low-income families will help those most in need and that is something all Ontarians should support”.
However, Hyde also noted that although the Ontario Student Grant is an important first step towards more accessible post-secondary education in Ontario, there are still financial challenges faced by graduate students. The Ontario Student Grant will base their needs assessment on the average tuition in Ontario; $6,160. The average tuition for Graduate students in Ontario is closer to $9000, so students in more expensive programs will need to make up a substantial difference.
Additionally, we will need to keep an eye on the changes to the tuition fee framework and funding formula review which could dramatically affect
the price of tuition over the next few years. The Ontario Student
Grant will be beneficial for graduate students, but could be offset by measurable increases in tuition over the next 5 years.
Graduate students pay the highest tuition fees in the country and they were ineligible for the Ontario Tuition Grant. Approximately 50% of our members have debt from their education and for over 30% of them the debt exceeds $30,000. The up-front grant will not reduce the amount of aid received because of scholarships and will have a significant impact on reducing debt for graduate students during both phases of their education.
“As a father, graduate student and advocate for students I celebrated and took a deep breath when the announcement was made about the Ontario Student Grant,” said Michael Makahnouk, President of the Ontario Graduate Students’ Alliance. “A needs-based approach is the right thing to do. This is a good investment for the Government because it gives low income families the opportunity to send their children to university or college, providing more opportunities that will benefit Ontario in the long run.”
W.R.M. Makahnouk, M.Sc.
Ontario Graduate Students' Alliance