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How Will the Recent Changes to Post-secondary Funding Affect You?
VP Education Matthew Gerrits discussed the recent announcement from the provincial government [external link] and what it could mean for students.
"The changes to tuition, the 10 per cent cut for domestic students may sound really great, but I want to make sure that it's put in context so that you understand what the effects of this announcement really are," he said.
10 per cent tuition cut for domestic students
While the reduction of tuition fees is welcomed, other changes in this policy will have serious financial repercussions for students, particularly those who need financial assistance the most.
The resulting loss of approximately $360 million to universities across Ontario will not be replaced by funding from the government, which could result in cutting supports on campus, increased class sizes, raising tuition for international students (whose tuition costs are not regulated).
Changes to OSAP
"These changes to OSAP include changes away from grants, which is money that you're not going to have to repay to the government, and changing those grants to loans, which is money that you will eventually have to repay," Gerrits said. "Essentially, it's a cut in the amount of money that the government is giving to students."
The grace period for repayment will no longer exist. Previously, students had a six-month grace period before interest started to accrue on OSAP debt. Now, interest begins as soon as students graduate.
"This means you're not going to have the opportunity to get a steady job, even get your first paycheque, before this interest starts accruing," Gerrits said.
"The cuts in tuition are not going to make up for the cuts that you're going to see in your grant funding if you're an Ontario student," he added.
Ancillary fee opt-out
All non-tuition fees that are not deemed mandatory are set to become opt-out, including the Feds fee. Because this means there will no longer be predictable funding, this could threaten the existence of many non-essential services we rely on, like:
- Student-run services, like the Feds Food Bank, Campus Response Team, and UW MATES
- Welcome Week and other important parts of the student experience
- Job opportunities for students
"Things like the Health and Dental insurance plan might see premiums go up, where they've currently been low. We might not even be able to have a transit agreement with GRT anymore, because that agreement is predicated on being able to deliver fees from all students," Gerrits said.
What is Feds doing?
"We at the Federation of Students are as concerned about these cuts as you are," Gerrits said. "They are big and they are going to affect if not you, many students that you know on this campus."
We have met with both Kitchener and Waterloo MPPs to talk about these changes and how they can help to address student concerns. Together with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, we are gathering student stories on how these cuts could affect students, and will be delivering these to the government so that they can see how students feel about these changes.
What can you do?
Reach out to your local MPP and let them know that this is an issue of serious concern that affects the families and the students in their own communities, all across the province.
"Let them know it's not fair to saddle students with additional debt. Let them know that education is already expensive enough and that we need affordable education in Ontario," Gerrits said.
We've put together a letter that you can use [external link] to send to your local MPP, or use it as a starting point for your own letter. You can find the email address of your MPP online [external link].