As many of you may know, the Ontario government recently awarded university and college students a 30 percent rebate on tuition paid for the winter 2012 semester, and committed to providing a 30 percent tuition reduction going forward. Sounds good, right?
Well, it is good to the estimated 30 percent of students that will actually benefit from this! Thousands of Ontario college and university students are deemed ineligible based on the government’s criteria to qualify.
Cleverly, the government set up four distinct qualifiers for this “rebate.”
You must be a full time student at a public college or university in Ontario
So far so good – for most of us. But what about the thousands of part time students that are working full time jobs in order to afford to go to school? In my opinion, part timers need this too. It is hard to work full time and fit school into your schedule, and most people that do this do it so that they do not amass a giant amount of debt.
Your parents’ income in $160,000 or less
I am all for this in situation where parents are footing the bill. But, for many of us, we are on our own to pay these tuition fees. We take out OSAP loans, we take out bank loans. We work, we live in poverty. Just because our parents are well-off does not automatically mean that we are benefitting financially from them. Sure, parents may help out every now and again when you are flat broke, but, they are not required to support us in our university exploits.
It’s been less than four years since you left high school
This one I have the biggest problem with. How does the time between leaving high school and starting university have anything to do with your financial need? Every year thousands of what are considered “mature students” enrol at the U of T. Some people simply aren’t ready to jump into university straight out of high school. According to the OSAP website mature students have been deemed ineligible because generally we qualify for more OSAP. This is crazy. Mature students are excluded because we can amass more debt? I cannot see any reason why this should be a criteria.
You’re in a program that you can apply to directly from high school
Every year hundreds of students enter via bridging programs such as the Academic Bridging Program or the Transitional Year Program. These are great avenues to higher education; however, these students are not eligible. According to the website this is because you “may” qualify for OSAP (which you do not in Academic Bridging), or you “may” qualify for the Ontario Bridging Participant Assistance Program. To be honest, I came through bridging and have never heard of this OBPAP. Additionally, second degree students such as those in law or medical schools do not qualify despite tuition for these programs being astronomical.
Overall I think this tuition rebate is a flop. It is inaccessible to most, and at the same time the government has cut legitimate grants and bursaries to post-secondary students to cover the costs of the program.
If you haven’t sensed it yet, I am not eligible for this rebate, nor are any of my mature student friends. It sounded like a good idea to begin with, but the criteria make it near impossible for an average student to receive this benefit.
What do you think?