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Here's How Much You Can Get With the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)

Written by Jessica Steer
When it comes to paying for university, tuition is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the cost of a laptop, books, groceries, rent – the list goes on. Add up all these expenses and you’ll find a post-secondary education can total up to $80,000 in Canada. With such a high price tag, many Ontario residents will have to finance their schooling with the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Use this guide to learn how OSAP works and how much money you can receive from the program.
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    What is the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)?

    The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a financial aid program that helps you cover the cost of university or college. It can be used to pay for an approved post-secondary institution anywhere in the world. Check out the OSAP School Search to see if your school is on the approved list.

    OSAP provides two types of funding:

    • Grants: If you’re awarded a grant, you don’t need to pay it back as it’s considered a financial gift.
    • Student loan: The loan amount plus interest need to be repaid after you graduate or leave your studies.

    You’ll automatically be considered for both grants and loans when you apply for OSAP.

    Who qualifies for OSAP?

    Ontario residents of all ages can qualify for OSAP as long as they’re a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or protected person (i.e. refugee).

    You may not be eligible for OSAP if you:

    • fail to meet academic requirements
    • have enough financial resources to pay for your school-related expenses
    • report income that doesn’t match what’s on file with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
    • have grant or bursary overpayments or numerous outstanding loan overpayments
    • defaulted on a previous student loan
    • failed a credit check
    • declared bankruptcy or consumer proposal
    • maxed out your lifetime limit of student loan funding
    • are an international student

    Can I receive OSAP if I work?

    You can work and get OSAP at the same time. However, keep in mind that you’re only eligible for OSAP if you don’t have enough money to cover your school expenses.

    The Ontario government also sees college or university as a shared investment and expects you to contribute $3,600 towards your education. This contribution can be met by working 16 hours for 15 weeks at minimum wage. Many students choose to work during the summer, however, you’re free to work throughout the year. Students with children and students on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works are not required to make this contribution.

    How much can I get from OSAP?

    Single full-time students can receive a maximum of $510 per week from OSAP. Full-time students who are married, in a common-law relationship or have sole support parents can get up to $825 per week.

    More information about maximum amounts can be found here.

    The amount of money you can get from OSAP depends on your financial need, which is calculated based on your:

    • Education costs: How much do you need for tuition, school supplies, and living expenses?
    • Course load: Are you a full-time or part-time student?
    • Financial situation: How big is your family and much income do you and your family make? Your OSAP amount won’t be affected if you withdraw money from a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

    Use the OSAP Aid Estimator to find out how much you could be entitled to.

    OSAP loans are normally sent to your bank account or school in September and January. They’re also payment and interest-free while you attend school full-time. If you’re in school but no longer collecting OSAP, you can still enjoy interest-free status on your previous loans by submitting a Continuation of Interest-Free Status Application.

    Additional federal grant funding is available for:

    • Full-time students (up to $6,500 per academic year)
    • Skills Boost Top-Up to the Canada Student Grant for Full-Time Students (up to $2,400 per academic year)
    • Disabled students (up to $2,800 per academic year)
    • Full-time students with dependants (up to $280 per child every month)

    What can I use this money for?

    OSAP loans and grants can be put towards a variety of expenses including:

    • Tuition and compulsory student fees
    • School supplies like a laptop, books, and course equipment
    • Living expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and healthcare (applies to full-time students only)
    • Child care for students with kids

    What do I need to pay back and when?

    You need to repay:

    • OSAP student loans: Repayments begin six months after you graduate or leave full-time studies. Interest is charged during this six-month grace period.
    • Grant or bursary overpayments: Sometimes, you’ll get a larger grant or bursary than you should have. This usually occurs when your study period plans change after you received funding. If this happens, you’ll be required to pay back some or all of the overpayment before you can access more OSAP funding.
    • Grants that get converted to a loan: In most cases, grants are financial gifts that don’t need to be repaid, however, they can turn into a loan if you quit your studies or stop taking the minimum course load. Grants also need to be paid back if the income listed in your application cannot be verified or if an OSAP reassessment discovers unreported income or dropped courses. If a grant gets converted to a loan, the grant amount is added to your OSAP loan balance and paid after you’ve left school.

    OSAP payments must be sent to the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC). After you graduate or leave your studies, NSLSC will send you a repayment package filled with key information like the date of your first payment, total number of payments based on a 9.5-year schedule, and the interest rates used to calculate your payments. You can stay on track with your repayments by creating an NSLSC online account. Sign in anytime to view your loan balance, make payments, or apply for repayment assistance.

    What is the interest rate on OSAP?

    If your OSAP is converted into a loan, the average interest rate on OSAP is 3.0%. The provincial portion of OSAP is based on the current prime rate plus 1%. Due to the temporary suspension of interest on Canada Student Loans, there will be no interest charged on the federal portion of OSAP until March 31, 2023.

    How do I pay back OSAP quickly?

    It is key to plan when receiving a student loan like OSAP. Taking advantage of the grace period is recommended. The more money you can set aside before repayment, the less difficulty there will be to start paying back your loan. Consider setting aside a portion of the OSAP you receive in anticipation of repayment and start being frugal with your spending.

    Once you are actively paying back your loan, you can freely make extra or larger payments through the NSLSC website. Take the time to examine your finances and determine what type of payment plan works best for you.

    Looking for more advice to pay off your student loan as fast as possible? Speed up the process with these other helpful tips and strategies for paying off student loans.

    Can I get repayment assistance?

    Financial support is available if you’re struggling to pay back your OSAP loan. The grace period can be extended by another six months if you own a new business in Ontario or work for a non-profit organization. You can also apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan, which reduces your monthly loan payments for six months at a time. Use the Repayment Assistance Estimator to see if you qualify. Repayment periods can be extended to 14.5 years as well.

    Is OSAP taxable?

    OSAP is not taxable because it falls into the same category as scholarships and bursaries. The Canada Revenue Agency issues T4A forms for OSAP, but they don’t have to be reported as income when filing taxes. The T4A serves as a receipt of your payments and interest paid to date, if applicable. These forms can be obtained from the NSLSC once they are available.

    How do I apply for OSAP?

    Applying for OSAP can be done online in less than 15 minutes.

    You’ll need the following to apply:

    • Details about your school and program
    • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and tax information
    • Your parents’ or spouse’s SIN and tax information (if applicable)

    You may have to provide additional documents, such as the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement and declaration pages. Applications must be submitted no later than 60 days before the end of your study period if you’re a full-time student or part-time student with study periods of 21 weeks or more. Deadlines are adjusted to 40 days before the end of your study period if you’re a part-time student with study periods of 20 weeks or less.

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