Education can cost quite a fortune in some parts of the world, but there are also different means of funding one’s education, including scholarships, student loans and grants.
In Ontario and other provinces in Canada, education is free for citizens and permanent residents until they graduate from high school. The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a means to fund your post-secondary education as a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in Canada.
Are you a Canadian citizen residing in Ontario or a permanent resident of Ontario looking to access the OSAP grant? This article will take you through OSAP and how it works.
What Is OSAP?
The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a student financial aid program. This program is designed to help people offset post-secondary education (college or university) in any part of the world.
To access this fund, you must be enrolled or plan to enroll in a qualifying institution. OSAP offers funding through grants and student loans. Some of the perks of OSAP include:
- Pay tuition fees
- Purchase books, equipment and supplies
- Pay compulsory fees charged by schools.
- Take care of living expenses for full-time students.
- Pay for childcare – if you are a student with a child/children.
OSAP Grant Eligibility
OSAP is open to students of any age who reside in Ontario and are any of the following:
- Canadian citizens
- Permanent residents
- Protected persons
This is to say that an international student cannot apply for the OSAP grants. You can use OSAP funding to go to a private or public college/university in any part of the world, as long as it is on the approved list. You can check if your school of choice is on the list here.
Applying for OSAP
It is advisable to start your application process at least ten weeks before the study period commences. The application process is straightforward; it takes an average of 15 minutes to complete. When applying, you need the following information:
- Information about your school and program
- Your parents’ or spouse’s SIN (where applicable)
- Your tax information
- Your parents’ or spouse’s tax information (where applicable)
Bear in mind that you will need to apply for OSAP individually for each school when applying for different schools. For full-time students and part-time students with 21 weeks or more study periods, the submission deadline is no later than 60 days before the end of your study period.
While for part-time students with 20 weeks or less study period, the submission deadline is no later than 40 days before the end of your study period. After submitting, you get an estimate of how much OSAP you can get.
If you qualify for a loan, you will have to complete either your Full-time or Part-time Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA). It is a lifetime student loan agreement.
Note that you might be required to complete your application by uploading the following details to your OSAP application:
- Declaration forms
- Any requested additional documents.
You are also to send the details mentioned above to your school’s financial aid office no later than 40 days from the end of your study period. You can regularly check your OSAP account for updates about your application.
OSAP Grants Application Process
It is advisable to opt-in for email notifications, so you get notified as soon as there is an update. You must also provide consent if you are giving your parents or spouse access to your OSAP information.
It takes about 3 to 6 weeks to get feedback on your application. That is from when you submit your application to the time all your required documents are received.
You are automatically considered for both grants and loans when you apply for OSAP. You can decline the latter if your application is approved.
You can register online to create an OSAP account. To do this, you will need your Social Insurance Number (SIN). Afterwards, you will be issued an access number and password as your login details. Best to write it down somewhere for safekeeping.
The application for the 2020/2021 academic year is currently open for full-time and part-time students. As a full-time student, you will need to complete an interactive module about OSAP before you can proceed with applications.
You can apply for the 2019/2020 academic year as a full-time student or part-time student. You also need to apply for the new academic year if you are a returning student and you were a recipient of the OSAP last year.
Amount Accessible From The OSAP Grants
Currently, there is no fixed amount of money you can get. Although the amount you get depends on the following:
- Education expenses; tuition, books, living expenses etc
- If you are a full-time or part-time student
- The financial status of you and your family
Note that your application may not be approved if you are considered financially capable of funding your education. You can get access to additional funding if you are:
- Living with a disability
- A former or current Crown ward
Find out more about the students in special circumstances.
Also, the amount you get from OSAP is not affected if you use the money from your Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).
Accessing Money From OSAP
After approval, your money is released in two instalments; the first one is sent when you start your study period, and the second one is received when you are halfway through with your studies.
Your money is received from the National Students Loan Service Centre (you will need to create an account) through deposit funds to your bank account and your school.
You can access the money once your application, reviewed and approved. Before your second instalment is released, your school will have to verify your enrolment at least two weeks before the study period commences. Note that you can’t receive funds within the last two weeks of your study period.
OSAP Funding Review
You can request for funding review if you:
- Face unexpected financial constraints or
- Cannot make your expected contributions or
- Have declared bankruptcy
- Experienced a family breakdown
- Fail to meet course requirements due to circumstances you cannot control
To request a funding review, you have to contact your financial aid office; they will let you know if a review is possible. They will also tell you if you need to fill a review form and the documents needed to aid the process. You must submit your review no later than 40 days before the end of your study period to your financial aid office.
OSAP Application Reassessment
Your application will be reassessed if you drop or add a course or make some changes in your application’s information. This might make you receive less OSAP than you were expecting. To avoid this, contact your financial aid and inform them ahead of time.
Conversion of OSAP Grant To Loan
A part or all your grant can be converted to a loan if:
- You stop taking the minimum course load.
- Withdraw from studies in the first 30 days of starting school
- You don’t become a full-time student within five months in that academic year.
If your application is reassessed, you’ll not be entitled to all or part of the grant.
If the income you or your family provided cannot be verified, you might not be considered for conversion. To avoid this, ensure that you provide complete and accurate income information in your application.
It would help if you also were quick in attending to information requests or warnings about your grant’s possible conversion.
If your tenant is converted to a loan, you will have to repay it monthly once you leave school or if you don’t reapply for an OSAP the following academic year.
OSAP Grant Overpayment
This is when you receive more grant funds than you’re entitled to. For example, if your study period changes after you have received your money. You may need to repay some or all of it before you can be considered for more funding.
Cancelling Your OSAP Application
You can decide to cancel your application at any time, either through your OSAP account or your financial aid office.
Student Access Guarantee (Sag)
You can qualify for financial help through the Student Access Guarantee (SAG) if you attend a public college or university in Ontario. It is a partnership between the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and Ontario’s post-secondary schools to ensure that financial needs don’t hinder access to quality education.
Your school can provide additional financial aid if OSAP doesn’t cover all of your expenses. The assistance can be in the form of:
- Work-study/ summer employment programs
- Referral to a line of credit
The OSAP grant is an excellent initiative that helps less privileged students in funding their education. You can use this plan to fund your education in any part of the world.
Ensure that the institution you are enrolling in is among the approved institution for the OSAP. You can always talk to a professional to guide you through the process if you are conflicted.