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OSAP changes receive mixed reviews from Ontario students

New measures outlined by the province yesterday that will change how Ontario deals with student loan assistance are being welcomed by some, while others say more needs to be done to help students.

Student aid linked to inflation among many key changes made by provincial government

One OSAP tweak: a car no longer counts as an asset, a modification that affects more than 7,300 student, the province says. (Government of Ontario)

New measures outlined by the province yesterday will change how Ontario deals with student loan assistance. Some changes are being welcomed by post-secondary students — but others say much more needs to be done.

The province posted the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) measures online on Tuesday. The changes were announced by the government in the budget released in April. 

One tweak to OSAP rules means the province will no longer count a car as an asset against a loan approval, a modification that affects more than 7,300 students, according to the government. Before this, car ownership was used to subtract from the total amount of money a student could access. 

"This affected me personally because I have a rare condition that requires me to own my own vehicle, which counted against me during my OSAP applications," said Rhaili Champaigne, president of Cambrian College's Students' Administrative Council. 

Another change coming this school year is linking maximum student aid levels with inflation, a move that will provide single students with an extra $155 per week and $355 for students who are married or have dependent children, the province said.

Despite the new measures, some say higher education is still too expensive for some. 

"Tuition fees in Ontario have fast outpaced inflation," said Rejean Hoilett, chairman for the Canadian Federation of Students in Ontario. "Tuition fees go up between three and five per cent depending on your program, and that has really put tuition fees out of reach."

Hoilett said he wants to see even more money invested in Ontario's colleges and universities to help reduce tuition costs.

The province said they are already spending tens of millions more on student grants and loans. 

During the last school year, the province said it dished out roughly $1.3 billion in student loans and grants, which helped more than 380,000 students.

The majority of student financial aid — 70 per cent — doesn't need to be repaid to the provincial government. 

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