McMaster students are very concerned about a reduction in OSAP support
January 17, 2019 at 13:25 pm
On the surface, a decrease in the sticker price of tuition is a welcome relief. However, today’s announcement of a 10% reduction in tuition costs is paired with a reduction in grant money to many students and their families, via decreases in OSAP support. Moreover, interest on OSAP will now begin immediately, as the six month grace period has been eliminated. Thus, the MSU is concerned about the negative impact on the affordability of post-secondary education for many students.
“Grants are a far more effective form of student financial aid than loans. Rolling back OSAP eligibility and increasing the loan threshold will increase the debt load on many students,” said Ikram Farah, President of the McMaster Students Union. “Ultimately, this plan will cost students much more in the long run, as any short term savings actualized by a decrease in the price of tuition, will be more than offset by long-term student debt.”
Students had worked with previous governments to transform the OSAP system to increase the affordability of post-secondary education for students who need it most. Changes to OSAP, including a repurposing of $365 million into upfront grants, created a more accessible student financial assistance system and allowed more students to receive financial aid. Today’s announcement may erode much of that success.
In addition, the potential of optional fee structures for services could severely undermine the ability of students to organize and maintain robust student-oriented provisions, along with their representation to all levels of government.
“Vital support services, benefiting undergraduate students at McMaster University are necessary”, said Farah. “Services that support mental and physical health, food security, student life enhancement, advocacy efforts, peer support, insurance plans, and affordable transit passes are critical to the wellbeing of McMaster students. The MSU will undoubtedly seek to protect these essential student services for the benefit of the undergraduate body.”
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