Ontario Assistance Student Program (OSAP) is one of the most sought-after financial aid programs in Canada. It aims to aid students to supplement their post-secondary expenses.
Did you know that the average cost of studying was $6,580 per student for the year 2020/2021, as per Statistics Canada? Adding the costs of living, rent, food, laundry, etc. makes it a round figure of up to $30,000 for 4 years for a UG program.
Many students in the universities or colleges are not fortunate enough to pay the college fee upfront. And with the fees for colleges at an all-time high due to inflation and other economic factors, financial aid programs in Canada can be a boon.
Who is Eligible for the OSAP?
The Canadian government provides support and grants to students to complete their studies, but OSAP also functions in conjunction with federal grants and financial aid. For instance, in 2018/2019 OSAP helped over 450,000 students by providing them massive grants and loans of over $2.1 billion.
People who are permanent residents in Ontario and who are a part of an approved OSAP program in school for at least 12 weeks are eligible for this loan. This loan offers money to students to pursue post-secondary school on a global level, as long as the student meets the eligibility criteria.
How is OSAP Funded?
The amount that you receive from OSAP is dependent on factors like fees, living expenses, financial needs, family income, personal income, additional scholarships, etc. To calculate it, you can also use this formula:
Financial needs = Educational cost – Financial contribution
Some additional factors that are reeled into consideration are the type, of course, level of study, course duration and load, relationship status, location of the school, etc. The need for financial assistance is directly proportional to the money you get, which you can further use to pay for your tuition.
What Kind of Funding Are You Eligible For?
Financial aid for students in Canada like OSAP needs to be applied for every year. The effort is worth it because you are getting the loans to fulfill your dreams to study at your preferred institution.
When you acquire a loan, you are using the public funds that you are obliged to pay back after 6 months post-graduation. As soon as you step out of school, you start accruing interest on this loan, even when you have the 6-month head start. However, due to the pandemic and its crippling effect on the financial standing of the people, the government had relieved the students by not implementing interest on those 6 months till further notice.
In the case of grants, you still get public funds, however, here you are not burdened with paying the money back after you are finished with your studies or you stop going to school. However, there is also a threshold on how much aid can be provided through the OSAP. And if you are a full-time student in a public Canadian university, the money is fixed at $545 each week.
Full-time students can also get more assistance, which can be up to $9,000 each year, and part-time students can get up to $3,600 each year. Disabled students get up to $4,000 and people who have dependents are eligible for $400 for each child monthly.
How to Apply for OSAP?
To get the benefits of OSAP, you can apply for it online. The application is free of cost and the processing part takes up to 15 days. You need to register and give the required information about your personal details, income, family income, etc.
While creating an OSAP account, you need to enter the details relating to current personal and family financial details, and the preferred college and course you want to study. You will also need these details to apply for other financial aid programs in Canada for students. Here are some things that you should prepare in advance:
- RESPs, and additional financial resources that are currently accessible by you
- Social insurance number, parents’ or spouse’s SIN number
- Parents and/or partners and your tax return details
- Direct deposits and bank account information
- The degree you aim to or are pursuing, name of college, start/end date, etc.
- An estimate of the total fees, expenses, food, rent, and other supplies for a year
You will utilize this account to apply for OSAP in the following college year, and you can also access this account to find out about the grant and aid status too. Remember to save your OSAP Id and password as well.
To avail of the benefits of OSAP, you need to adhere to the deadline. The deadline to apply for this is 60 days before the end of your study period. The ending period for submission of the fee is also at the end of the semester, hence, you need to act in advance.
How to Repay the Loan?
To repay the OSAP loan, you will be paying monthly installments with the additional interest added to your balance. If your payment is quick, you will pay less in interest, and save money on those additional payments.
To find the amount that you owe for the OSAP, you will need to figure out these pointers:
- Borrowed amount
- Repayment T&C
- Interest rates
The Interest Structure for Student Loans in Canada
For the Ontario government’s aid
Student loans in Canada (CSL)
- Fixed rate= prime rate _ 2%
- Variable rate= prime rate+0%
The prime rate is deemed as the rate that is annually used by financial institutions to provide loans to high-merit individuals and businesses. This rate is manipulated by the 5 big Canadian banks and is volatile. The interest rates that are levied on student loans are not as high as compared to the ones levied on credit cards and other bank loans.
Tips to Handle Financial Aid Programs in Canada
Be Free from the Burden of Interest
You have to ensure that you verify your enrollment yearly to retain your status as a student and be interest-free. If you are not attending school for 6+ months, then you will have to make the payments for the loan. Make mental notes of the dates that are crucial for the repayments, so you don’t go into default on your loan.
Create a Budget to Stay Afloat
Take out a loan for the amount that is needed and don’t try to succumb to the greed of having more money. Hence, you will not be stressing yourself with unnecessary payment for the future. Having more money in the bank account seems like a good idea for people, but mismanagement can quickly lead you into a debt trap.
You should also keep in mind to apply to OSAP as early as you can, so you are not stressed with applications at the end stages. Hence, you can continue your dream education without any burden.