Funding is always a major factor in the decision to pursue education and training. College and university tuition in Ontario is among the highest in the country. However, the payoff of obtaining that degree, diploma or skill may be worth it in the long run. It’s important to take a researched, thoughtful approach to your decision making. If you decide to proceed with your education or training, you’ll need to make a plan to not only pay for your tuition and other costs, but to make sure you can pay for your basic needs.
The following are a few of the sources you may be able to turn to for funding. We suggest working with your employment counsellor to go over your budget and your funding options, to ensure you’ll be able to focus on your studies rather than your financial situation.
OSAP is the Ontario Student Assistance Program and is a federal/provincial student loan program with loans for full-time, part-time and graduate students. As OSAP is not a bank loan, you don’t need to put up collateral, and any interest accrued while you're in school is paid by the federal and provincial governments.
Through your application, which assesses you and your family’s financial capacity as well as the costs of your chosen program, OSAP will determine the amount of loan available to you – by taking into account factors including your costs (e.g. tuition, books, living, travel) and your own financial resources. OSAP also provides scholarships, bursaries and grants, based on your academic achievement or special circumstances.
To receive aid, you must meet certain citizenship and residency requirements and you need to attend a school that is OSAP approved. Public colleges and universities, some private career colleges and some out of province and out of country schools are approved for OSAP. Most programs at public colleges and universities are approved for OSAP. When you fill out an online application, the ministry checks that your program of study is approved. If the program isn't approved, you can't get OSAP.
There are other reasons that you may not be eligible to receive OSAP, for example if you’ve defaulted on a student loan, provided false information in your application, or failed the credit check. The best way to see if you’re eligible is to fill out an application.
Changes to OSAP in September 2017
Beginning September 2017, Ontario is carrying out major changes to OSAP. As a result of the changes, eligible students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less will receive free average tuition. This includes dependent students (those less than four years out of high school), married students, and single-parent students. Single independent students (those who have been out of high school for four or more years and who are not married or have children) will be eligible for free average tuition if they earn $30,000 per year or less. The government is also grouping a number of OSAP grants into one upfront grant. Financial support that was previously provided at various times (e.g., start of studies, end of studies, or years later) will now be provided in an upfront grant. To learn more about these changes, click here to read a brochure of Frequently Asked Questions.
There are a number of internship programs which might help you to access workplace-based training and experience. Some of these internships are voluntary and some may be paid. Occasionally, The Working Centre can arrange and facilitate on-the-job training placements. Conduct labour market research for internships in your field, and work with your employment counsellor to explore your options.
Scholarships & Bursaries
Accessing scholarships and bursaries is one way to minimize the cost of post-secondary education. There are a host of scholarships and bursaries out there and many students don’t do their research to find the ones available to them. In the links below you will find a number of sites that list scholarships and bursaries. The work to apply to them may be extensive but the payoff could be great. Be sure to also check in with the Financial Aid office at your school to find out what scholarships and bursaries might be available there.