Western students now learning full impact of OSAP cuts
Post-secondary school students are now learning how much less they'll be receiving after the province made cuts to OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
Western University’s campus is relatively empty now, but come the fall you may see a lot of students walking around wondering how they're going to get by.
“It's been particularly devastating for a lot of my friends as well as for myself, we've been kind of in a frenzy,” says Alec Mazurek, who is entering his third year at Western University.
Even though he works part time, he's always depended on OSAP funding to get by.
So far his loans and grants have totalled $15,000, but he just got notice that he's now receiving $3,000 less than before.
Mazurek says, “I’ll have to work another job, I guess, find a personal line of credit, try to make the best of it, try to get as much support as I can.
“In my first year I was very dependent on OSAP to cover my textbooks and essentially my groceries and what-not. But this year I'll have to make the choice between paying my tuition and enduring I can cover the cost of living.”
And he’s not alone, after the province cut OSAP funding by $600 million, those on student councils are aware they’ll have some hand-holding to do this fall.
Cat Dunne, of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, says it’s, “Super stressful. We've heard from many different students with a variety of different circumstances knowing that they can't afford to come to university anymore.”
The impact is definitely going to be felt at Western University, where 50 per cent of the school’s 25,000 undergraduate students use OSAP.
“We've heard from students that they are receiving on average $3,000 less in OSAP than they were before,” Dunne says.
“And they're struggling to know how they are going to cover the costs of university, their tuition, their textbooks and they know they may have to choose between funding their education and taking on massive loads of debt or not being able to come here at all.”
Mazurek says receiving the assessment has been extremely frustrating.
“A best picture scenario, I would like to see the government reverse their policy and be able to support the students that desperately need this financial help to continue their post-secondary studies.”
Several protests have already been held of the province’s decision to cut OSAP, and more are expected once students return to classes in September.