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Students devastated by changes to OSAP

Changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) by the Ford government have some students worried about how they will continue to stay in school.

Many have taken to Twitter to show just how much less they are getting this year

Gabrielle Drolet says that changes to OSAP mean she will have to dip into a large chunk of her savings for graduate school to pay for her fourth year of undergrad at Western University. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

Gabrielle Drolet, 21, knew changes to OSAP were coming. She knew the changes were unlikely to be good. 

Still, knowing that she will now have to dip into savings she'd reserved for graduate school to cover the cost of tuition, food and rent is a tough pill to swallow.

"In the first three years of my undergrad, I've gotten grants and loans. All of my savings from the work I do during the summer and the school year, I will now have to dip into a large chunk of that to pay for my fourth year," Drolet said. 

"I'm lucky that I do have savings but I can't use them for what I intended to. Before, the combination of grants and loans could generally cover tuition and the cost of living, and now, for some people, it's not enough to cover tuition, let alone everything else." 

Drolet is going into her fourth year of studying creative writing and English literature at Western University. 

"We knew the changes were coming. There's a difference between hearing a proposed plan and then seeing the numbers on paper or on the OSAP screen. Seeing the numbers is astounding, especially when you compare them to last year, to the cost of living and the cost of tuition," Drolet said. 

She's not hopeful that last week's cabinet shuffle, which saw backbench MPP Ross Romano appointed to the ministry of training, colleges and universities, will see a shift in thinking about the OSAP program. 

"It's a nice hope to have, but there has been outcry from students since January when it was announced, students have continued to go to their politicians, go to their campuses and say we need funding, and nothing has changed," she said. 

"So, even though there's a cabinet shuffle, it won't mean much for us. Doug Ford seems to be a proud man who is set in his ways, and students in particular he seems to have little respect for." 

Drolet said the changes are short-sighted. 

"Investing in students is investing in the future of Ontario. If the PC party, or whoever is in charge, genuinely cares about Ontario and the people who live here, you need to invest in the people who are the province's future." 

The Ford government says it had to make the changes to the student loan and grant program because the update brought in under the previous Liberal government was financially unsustainable. 

Instead of giving free tuition to low-income students, the Tories cut tuition fees by 10 per cent. 

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