If you or your child child is preparing to attend post-secondary school, then you might be curious to learn more about the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Continue reading to discover more about one of the most popular forms of financial aid for students in the province of Ontario.
What is OSAP?
OSAP stands for the Ontario Student Assistance Program. It is a form of government aid offered by the provincial government of Ontario. It is designed to help Ontario resident students and is granted according to an individual student’s estimated educational costs and expected resources. OSAP offers funding to students through a mix of government grants and student loans. The grants received do not need to be repaid, however, the student loans do. When a student applies for OSAP, the government will automatically consider your application for grants and a student loan. If you end up being offered a student loan or a mix of grants and loans, but you later decide you do not want to take out a loan, you can decline it. This applies whether you are a full-time or a part-time student. Overall, the purpose of OSAP is to offer financial aid for students, helping them fund the cost of tuition, books, equipment, living expenses, additional fees, and even child care.
How are OSAP loans administered?
OSAP loans are administered by the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC). The NSLSC is responsible for administering loan funding to Ontario residents who apply for OSAP. Once your application has been submitted and reviewed, assuming you choose to accept the student loan offered to you, it is the NSLSC that will distribute the loan funding. Further, after you have completed your post-secondary program, the loan repayments that you are required to make will be made to the NSLSC. If you accept loan funding from the NSLSC through OSAP, it’s a smart idea to create an account with NSLSC to better track your student loans and payments.
Qualifying for OSAP: who is eligible for OSAP
Not all Ontario students qualify for OSAP. In order to be eligible for OSAP, you must meet the following qualifications:
- You are registered in full-time studies for the session
- You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or have protected person status
- You have Ontario residency, meaning you have resided in Ontario for at least 12 consecutive months without attending full-time post-secondary school
- You are enrolled in an OSAP-approved degree program
- You are neither in default on a previous OSAP student loan nor on OSAP restriction
- You maintain satisfactory academic progress while receiving OSAP aid
- You have demonstrated financial need as calculated by the government (this calculation typically includes gross family income, student resources and assets, etc.)
Who is not eligible for OSAP
If the following applies to you, it’s unlikely that you’ll be eligible for funding through OSAP:
- You are an international student
- You are not a resident of Ontario
- You do not meet the academic progress requirements
- You have enough financial resources, including other forms of government aid or Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) savings, to cover your expenses allowed by OSAP
- You reported income on your OSAP application that’s vastly different from what you reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
- You have defaulted on a student loan
- You have grant or bursary overpayments or multiple outstanding loans
- You failed a credit check
- You filed for bankruptcy, made a consumer proposal, obtained a consolidation order, or filed a document seeking relief for the orderly payment of debts
- You have reached your lifetime limit of student loan funding (340 weeks of funding, 400 weeks of funding for doctoral studies, and up to 520 weeks of funding for students with disabilities)
RESP savings and OSAP
It is important to note that while OSAP can be a valuable form of financial aid for students, the amount you receive through the National Student Loans Service Centre is likely to be impacted by the other financial resources you have at your disposal, including but not limited to RESP savings.
As noted above, something that may make you ineligible for OSAP is if the government determines that you have enough financial resources to cover your expenses. For example, if you have been contributing to an RESP student plan for quite some time, your OSAP student loan may be limited. That said, there are plenty of benefits to opening and contributing to an RESP. In fact, doing so might even allow you to avoid OSAP loans altogether, which means no student debt and a clearer path to financial independence.
Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.