On Thursday, the province introduced a number of student-specific initiatives in the 2017 Ontario Budget that will help alleviate stress and make the transition into the workforce a little less facepalm-inducing.
Breathing Room for OSAP Re-Payment:
Recent grads exhale! Now, you don’t have to start paying back the provincial portion of your student loans until you’re earning $35,000 a year. Before, the salary minimum was $25,000. The change will start in September and will be fair game for students graduating this spring or fall.
The province is estimating more than 210,000 postsecondary students will have their tuition covered next year.
Yeah, what about all that “free tuition” stuff?
ICYMI: In 2016, the Ontario government announced a new grant to cover the tuition for low-income students. The overhauled OSAP system will be rolling out this fall. The term “free tuition” is misleading. It’s not like they’re just pumping grants out in a T-shirt canon to everyone. There are still a lot of question marks, but here are some of the nuts and bolts:
.The new OSAP system will replace many existing provincial grants with a single upfront grant called the Ontario Student Grant (OSG) to help students cover educational costs.
.Under the OSG, students whose annual family income is under $50,000 will have their AVERAGE tuition costs covered by the government. This includes mature students. The average tuition for university students in Ontario for the 2017-2018 school year is $6,540. For college, it’s $2,940.
.Students from families that earn more will have access to more non-repayable grants of varying amounts. The new OSAP calculator will tell you how much you’re eligible for.
The province is estimating more than 210,000 postsecondary students will have their tuition covered next year. They say no student will get less money than they would under the current Ontario Tuition Grant program. Pretty great news.
Help Getting Jobs:
Ontario is launching its $190 million Career Kick-Start Strategy to help students transition from school to work. Some highlights include:
. Free (yes, free) access for students to LinkedIn Lynda.com courses through the eCampusOntario website. Lynda.com is a hub that offers over 5,000 online courses in business, technology and the arts taught by industry experts and educators. Hello, bulking up that resume!
.$68-million for employers to create workplace learning opportunities through the Career Ready Fund.
.An additional 100 placements a year for new graduates in the Ontario Internship Program.
Free Prescription Drugs:
So, this is pretty huge. To make sure students have access to the care they need, the province is introducing free prescription drug coverage for everyone aged 24 and under. The new plan, dubbed “Pharmacare Jr.,” will cover the cost of all prescription medications, regardless of family income or whether you have private insurance. It’s set to roll out Jan. 1, 2018.
You can read the full 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario here. How do you feel about these changes? Leave us a comment.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.