If you just graduated and are already worried about making your OSAP payments, you're certainly not alone. According to a new report, Ontario student debt is the worst it's been in the past nine years, and the problem is deepening. The report by Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. shares that while tuition costs are going up and the cost of living keeps rising, people are starting to declare bankruptcy at an earlier age than ever before.
On average, three in 10 of those declarations are made by people between the ages of 18 and 29. The average age remains around 30, but the trend of recent grads being pulled under is alarming, to say the least, and has been worsened by the Ford government's recent cuts to OSAP.
The average rate of university tuition in Canada is around $6,838 and it's gone up by 3.7 percent in the past 10 years. But, for Ontario specifically, the rate is around $8,838 for tuition and it has blown up by 4.6 percent in the same amount of time, according to the report, titled "Student Debt Crisis - A Generation Buried in Student Debt."
Because of this, it actually takes an average of nine to 15 years for Canadians to pay off their debt completely.
That's just the lucky ones, though. The harsh reality is that not a lot of people even get to clear their student debts.
In order to claim you're unable to make payments towards your OSAP, you should have been out of school for about seven years. It would seem that explains why most people claim insolvency at around the age of 30.
Tuition isn't the only thing that affects a student's ability to pay back their OSAP. Jobs that can cover both basic living needs and loan repayment are getting harder and harder to find in Ontario.
"They are increasingly unable to find a stable job with enough income to support both student loan repayment and living expenses," the report says. This also contributes to the growing issue of bankruptcy.
Some people are taking any full-time job they can get their hands on, in some cases not even remotely related to the field they studied.
"I've been using the Repayment Assistance Plan since I finished school," Instagram user Torontoronto told Narcity. "The RAP [has] been very helpful for my family and I, given our own financial situation."
But he's had to find a job out of his field, to which he says "there's so much uncertainty with finding employment upon graduation, so it simply isn't fair."
And now, with recent cuts to OSAP, current students are dreading the impact and potential debt, as well as dealing with less support than ever before.
"The first year, my OSAP was both prematurely cut off and recalculated because of my mother's passing just two months before school started," says Kristian Viudez, a current student at Ryerson. "So, I had to write an official letter and send a death certificate to Ryerson, despite having already disclosed that information in my OSAP application."
The struggle to stay afloat can feel almost impossible to deal with for many students, and the combination of rising tuition fees and cuts to OSAP mean it's an escalating problem.
Companies like TD Bank offer ways on how to combat the student debt crisis, but that help is often - and increasingly - not enough.