03.29.2010 11:02 AM

PSA re: PSE

The first protest I ever led was on Parliament Hill in 1984 – against the Trudeau government’s approaches to post-secondary education.  We didn’t overturn any cars or set effigies alight, but we did secure a meeting with Jim Peterson, and we attracted lots of media attention to our cause.  (We kept at it, too.  I even later made a mock run at the Conservative Party leadership, to force politicians to focus on PSE.  We held a car wash to come up with the entrance fee, but came up short!)

I’ve remained  passionate about PSE, since then, because I believe that (a) our collective future depends on it and (b) reducing university and college campuses to playgrounds for the rich, as in much of the US, would be an unmitigated disaster.  Post-secondary education must remain accessible and equitable for all.  It’s in our own self-interest, along with being the right thing to do.

Thus, I’m pretty happy by this move by the McGuinty government.  It will help kids struggling under massive debt loads – and it will help ensure that PSE remains a right, and not a privilege for a few.

**

Ontario students to get more loans, flexibility in paying back debt (Ont-Student-Aid)
Source:
The Canadian Press
Mar 29, 2010 11:33

TORONTO – College and university students in Ontario will get more financial aid and more flexibility on loan repayment options as the province moves to increase new post-secondary spaces this fall.

The changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program include 1,000 new graduate scholarships, a new grant for part-time students and additional support for married students or those with children. The Ontario Student Opportunity Grant threshold, which caps annual student debt, will increase to $7,300 from $7,000 for a two-term academic year, the first increase in 12 years.

Students will also be allowed to keep more of the money they earn from part-time jobs and will get a no-interest period on student loans for six months after graduation.

The changes, which provide details of an $81-million plan promised in the fall economic statement, will improve assistance for about 188,000 students.

The tuition fee framework is also being extended for two more years, limiting tuition fee increases to an average of five per cent annually.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, which represents more than 140,000 university students, welcomed the move, calling it a “huge step forward for students relying on government aid to access higher education.”

The alliance says the changes mean the weekly loan limits will increase to $150 from $140 per week.

They also tie the maximum assessment for textbook and supplies costs to the rate of inflation.

“The sustained regulation of tuition fees is promising, however, students in Ontario continue to pay the highest fees in the country,” said OUSA executive director Alexi White.

INDEX: EDUCATION POLITICS

8 Comments

  1. AmandaM says:

    I went through York University as a sole-support parent, getting over $20,000 per year in OSAP for 5 years. It’s a good program, but it can be better.

    If I understand this, they’re increasing the amount of OSAP kids in who get the maximum (and thus will have the most re-payable debt) are getting by $10 per week, or, in a typical year (September – April), 34 weeks, which is an additional $340 per year in debt, yet the Student Opportunity Grant is only increasing by $300? Students will have an additional $40 more in re-payable debt per year. I’m glad that students are not going to have as much of their income from summer jobs taken into OSAP decisions. Why ANY of it would be taken into account is the real question.

    Here’s another thing. Undergraduate studies are one thing, but what about graduate students? The kids who are the best of the best get full fellowships/scholarships to US and we just kind of hope that they will come home eventually to start their businesses and conduct their research. It is still seen as better to go to a US school to undertake graduate studies if you have the grades and are offered the money. – just look at all of the Universities (Toronto, York, Western) who have partnered with American business schools to lend gravitas to their Executive MBA programs. Wouldn’t we rather make sure that these students are well-supported and trained here? While we are doing a great job of making Ontario competitive in terms of where to invest and create jobs, we aren’t making sure our Universities have enough funding to ensure that those students who will turn into those researchers and business-creators stay here. Obviously, these are difficult choices about where to spend, especially in times of transition, but post-secondary education is what is going to power Ontario in the future.

  2. AmandaM says:

    My Student Opportunity Grant was about $7000 per year, meaning that if I incurred $20,000 in loans, I had to pay back $13,000. That’s how I have about $45K in student debt (I’ve been out of school for 6 years and have paid some back – it started at just over $65K). If the OSOG made it so that if you incurred $20,000 but only ever had to pay back $7000, I would only have had $35K in student debt the moment I left school.

    So before the changes, if a student receives $140 per week x 34 weeks, that’s $4760 (as a base – sole support parents are going to get more – and how do you live on $600 per month if you have to pay rent, etc? I used to get $3000 in Millenium Scholarship, not sure if that’s still in existence), on top of tuition which is, say $6000 for a full course-load. So now we have a student with $10,760 in debt. Let’s say that student gets the full OSOG of $7000, leaving her with $3760 in debt.

    After the changes, the student will receive $150 per week x 34 weeks, or $5100. Plus tuition of $6000 = $11,100. Full OSOG of $7300 is awarded, leaving debt of $3800. Not that $15,200 is a massive amount of student debt, but it’s still something hanging around your neck when you start your post-undergrad life.

    Unless the system has changed (and it’s not like, out of the realm of possibility that it has), I’m confused about how this announcement is what OUSA wanted.

  3. J. Coates says:

    I guess Ontario students can now afford real Kraft dinner instead of the no-name brand.

  4. Lee says:

    Some of these changes are good, but the tuition cap is one of our most egregious policy no-nos. Any half-wit can show that they’re regressive and distortionary, but for some reason we alway stake the advice of silly groups like the Undergraduate Student Alliance.

  5. JM says:

    The six month no interest period after graduation is nothing new and shouldn’t be advertised as such.
    It has been in place for at least the past 5 years.

  6. D. says:

    The entire thing is a SCAM.

    When I went to Student Aid to get a loan, I said I needed to borrow $4000 to get through th year. (my 3rd of an undergrad). THEY said you can’t borrow $4000, you can only apply for aid and if you qualify you get the full amount; $9700 per year at the time, cash! I was 24. I said – FUCK YEA, I’ll take DOUBLE! I accepted it for the next 3 years. I finished school +/-$30,000 in debt, received the 6 month grace period, and then was hit for $500/month in MINIMUM re-payment. I guess I should have read the fine print, but THAT was more than my rent (15 years ago). SO, employed with a new MA, as a fucking BARTENDER, I gave them 500, my landlord 400, ate 500 and used 500 to run a shitty car to get to work….

    1 year later I declared bankruptcy. NOW they have legislation which deems OSAP loans a Crown Debt so they get their loot. WHY are the Provence and Country, MAKING money off students? Is that right?

    I say, interest free for students.

    (I,personally, DEFAULTED and feel NO guilt. Screw you I say.)

    D.

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