Ontario colleges, universities, students to get more money

The Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities said the Ontario government may consider doing more for cash-strapped post-secondary students and their families.

Liberal minister Glen Murray promises education budget increases, tweaks to tuition rebate program

The Ontario government may consider doing more for cash-strapped post-secondary students and their families, according to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The admission came a day after hundreds of students from across the province protested being excluded from the Liberal government's 30-per-cent tuition rebate.

"We’ll roll up our sleeves and we’ll sit down with student associations and we’ll look at ways to expand it," Glen Murray told CBC News on Thursday.

Murray is to address students at the University of Windsor on Thursday.

Murray also hinted there may be more money available for students when the Liberals roll out their budget later this spring.

"My budget envelope is increasing and transfers to colleges and universities will continue to grow," Murray said. "We will continue to increase student aid. There will be [budget] cuts coming, but they will be in other lower-priority areas of government.

"We cannot back off on our investment in kids and their families."

Plenty of money available, minister says

Murray isn't convinced many students are upset about not qualifying for the rebate in its current form. The promise was a popular plank during last fall's election campaign.

Murray said "more than half" of post-secondary students qualify for the rebate, and those that don't have access to some of the seven other financial aid programs the government offers to students.

Glen Murray doesn't believe post-secondary students have been let down by the Liberal government. (University of Windsor)

"I don’t think most students feel let down," he said. "There are a whole range of programs available."

Those who don't qualify for the 30-per-cent rebate include part-time students and grad students, among others.

"If you’re still in university after four years, you’re an independent student and you’re available to quite generous student aid," Murray claimed.

Murray said the 30-per-cent reduction applies to dependent students, those whose financial aid is calculated against their parents' income. Grad students can receive grants calculated against their person income, Murray said.

According to the minister, the current rebate is available to 300,000 students.

Hilda Otieno of the Canadian Federation of Students wants the province to convert the 30-per-cent rebate into a 13-per-cent tuition reduction across the board.

Murray said any changes implemented to the current program now would make Liberal MPPs "flip-floppers."

"I’m not sure why we’d do that," he said.