BY ALEX RIESE
The student access guarantee issued by the Government of Ontario helps about 1,000 Conestoga students with the strenuous financial demands of everyday life. Unfortunately, that relief may be delayed this school year.
The guarantee, generally issued at the end of November, still hadn’t been released to students, as of Spoke’s December press time.
In addition, before this year the guarantee had always been distributed directly to students. This school year, however, it’s being applied directly to tuition. Patrick Bennett, the financial aid manager at Conestoga College, said the guarantee has always been intended for paying tuition.
“The student access guarantee is for students in high cost programs whose tuition costs and book costs are above what OSAP provides,” he said. “We essentially make up the difference.”
Bennett also said applying the money directly to tuition saved Student Financial Services a lot of time.
“Because students don’t apply for the guarantee, they aren’t expecting the grant money. We used to email the students to let them know that the cheque was available, and we used to have to do a lot of chasing,” he said. “Even after that, we’d only have about 15 to 20 cheques distributed by the end of the semester.”
First-year journalism student Zoey Ross is outraged by the withholding of the guarantee. Many students like Ross already made arrangements for the payment of tuition.
“I already have a tuition plan set up, so I don’t need it to go to that,” he said. “Previously they would just cut you a cheque.”
According to the Student Financial Services office, students who already have a payment plan set up can get a cheque cut, but only after full payment of tuition has been proven.
Conestoga Students Inc. president Jeff Scherer has begun an investigation into the matter.
“I have started the conversation with Student Financial Services, and the student body will know about any information as soon as it’s known,” he said.