Following the Liberal government's new student-aid policy, which replaces loans, grants, and tax credits with a streamlined student-aid system that covers the cost of average tuition fees for students whose families earn less than $50,000 a year, OSAP applications are on the rise.
According to The Globe and Mail, applications for financial aid from university and college hopefuls are up a fifth this year compared to 2016. But more importantly, OSAP applications from Indigenous and mature students are even higher, which demonstrates the impact the new student-aid policy has on underrepresented groups in higher education.
"Nobody was predicting the kind of increase that we have seen," Deputy Premier and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews said. "It's 50,000 more students applying for OSAP this year than last, which is an … encouraging result," she said.
It's not only an encouraging result, it demonstrates that the new policy is giving more Canadians the opportunity to study and create a future for themselves.
After reviewing the initial numbers released, the greatest increase in OSAP applications came from Indigenous students, rising by 36 per cent to almost 7,500.
Numbers released to The Globe and Mail showed that applications from mature students and from students headed to college both grew by 28 per cent, with a 20 per cent increase in applications from those applying to university.
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"The initial numbers that were released are a great sign that this policy … is actually an effective way of overcoming barriers to post-secondary and giving students an opportunity to study," said Andrew Clubine, the president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, one of the student organizations that advocated for the changes.
To help inform Indigenous students about the new policy changes, Ms. Matthews says they've made a "Concerted effort to get out into communities and talk to people about what OSAP changes mean for Indigenous kids."
The numbers also showed that just over 384,000 full- and part-time students attending postsecondary in Ontario and abroad applied for OSAP this year, which is up from 313,000 from last year. The OSAP system accounted for approximately $1.1-billion of the $6.3-billion of Ontario's postsecondary spending in 2015, reports The Globe and Mail.
The goal of the government is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and from the initial numbers released, the new student-aid policy is enabling that.
Source: The Globe and Mail