What is OSAP?
The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a mix of loans and/or grants funded by the provincial and federal government to help you pay for post-secondary school. The program is open to full-time and part-time students.
How do I know if I am eligible for OSAP?
While many of our clients say they are not eligible for OSAP because their parents’ income is too high, we recommend using the OSAP Aid Estimator to estimate what you could receive. Many clients are surprised that they are actually eligible. Plus, even if you are only eligible for $1, this may allow you to access other types of funding. Individuals with disabilities, for example, may be eligible for more grants, such as the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment (CSG-DSE) and/or the Bursary for Students with Disabilities (BSWD). A doctor or neuropsychologist must complete an “OSAP Disability Verification Form” for you. Your POGO Transitions Counsellor can help facilitate this.
*TIP: If an estimate is not yet available for your school year, try using the previous year or try again in the spring.*
I don’t want any loans after post-secondary school. Why would I apply for OSAP?
If you are eligible for grants, you can request that you receive the “Grant Only Funding,” essentially meaning that you’ll receive grants but not the loan portion of OSAP. Typically you do not have to pay back grants. However, this would change if you are not taking the minimum course load, you decide to withdraw from your program or if your application is reassessed to show underrepresented income, for example. Speak with your financial aid office in advance if you’d like the “Grants Only Funding.” See the OSAP Aid Estimator link above to see if you would be eligible for grants.
I need the loans portion of OSAP to pay for school, but I’m worried I won’t be able to pay these back after I graduate. What are my options?
First, repayment of student loans has been a little bit easier these past few years with interest on federal loans being waived for the COVID-19 pandemic. This was set to expire on March 31st, 2023; however, at the time of this writing, the Canadian government recently passed a Bill to eliminate this interest permanently. Remember, this does not apply to provincial loans, and some interest will still be accrued.
You also may be eligible for the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP). Your eligibility is based on your family size and income. There are two stages: “Interest Relief” and “Debt Reduction.” For “Interest Relief,” the government may pay some or all of the interest accrued on your loan. For “Debt Reduction,” they will either lower or eliminate the required monthly payments for six months. You must apply for RAP through the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) and reapply every six months.
Applying for OSAP can be overwhelming and stressful, so don’t hesitate to contact your POGO Transitions Counsellor, who can help you better understand the process or connect you with your school’s financial aid office.
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Written by Lindsay VanSickle
POGO Counsellor London