Ontario's post-secondary students won't have to worry about owning a car or working a part-time job when applying for financial assistance in the future.
That's because the new provincial budget eliminates the requirement for students to have to report their vehicle as an asset or part-time work as income deduction when they are assessed for OSAP loans.
The government will also be tying maximum student aid levels to inflation, starting this fall. Ontario says it is the first province to take this step.
Similarly, the so-called debt cap — or the maximum amount of money a student borrower will have to pay back — will also be set to inflation. That means students will have to repay an additional $100 of their loan per year.
The province will also eliminate the Ontario Student Loan Trust and instead have the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities manage the funding of student loans directly. The government says this will not change the way students apply for loans, nor the way that they receive them.
For the 2015-16 school year, the budget indicates that the Ontario student loan limit will be $155 per week for single students and $355 for students who are married or have dependent children.
Internal government figures project that Ontario will spend an additional $39.2 million in this budget year providing grants and loans to students and in covering defaults. That is estimated to rise to $72.3 million next year and $116.7 million the year after that.
Higher tuition and higher need from students are two factors in these rising costs.
In total, Ontario will spend about $7.8 billion across its post-secondary and training sector in the 2015-16 budget year.
That's just under six per cent of the provincial budget.