September 30, 2023

Funding cuts to student loans from the Ontario government are being felt across the province and students at Conestoga College are no exception.

Some Conestoga College students are trying to balance life with less funding following changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) made earlier this year by Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government.

Patrick Clancy is in his second year at Conestoga College and is finding some stark differences in his time from first year to second as a result of the changes. 

“I’ve received $2000 less than I did last year, I’ll definitely run out of money before the school year ends. Now I gotta get a part time job and work more hours,” said Clancy.  

Some students who would normally use their time after class to work on their assignments say they are now at risk of having to sacrifice that time to work extra hours. 

According to the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associates, the provincial government cut over $650 million to the Student Financial Assistance budget for this school year.

Although, Ford cut tuition by 10 per cent, some OSAP users are still finding it difficult to budget their money for the year. 

Despite the changes, not all students have been faced drastically reduced funding. Second year Conestoga College student Skyler Wade said his funding has only been cut by $200 and isn’t changing the way he budgets his money. 

Some students, depending on income, will still receive more grants and loans than others. This is designed for lower income students and families to be able to attend college or university without going into massive debt, according to Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities.

Although, this may be good for families who are in financial need, the Conservatives have also gotten rid of the six-month interest free grace period per the OSAP website. This means that the loans students have received will start incurring interest on them immediately after graduation, but students won’t be required to start paying back their loans until after six months.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu, who oversees federal student-support programs, criticized the changes. In a letter, she urged Fullerton and her government to abandon their plan and return to the previous way of funding students. The changes will affect many students and make post-secondary education less affordable, said Hadju.

Depending on income, students are having different experiences with the funding they are getting.

Some are unaffected by the cuts and others are feeling them deeper than ever.

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