A recent change from the provincial government resulted in cuts to OSAP, a 10% reduction to tuition costs, and the Student Choice Initiative, which makes some of your student association fees optional.

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What does this mean for you?

Changes to OSAP

These changes from the provincial government mean:

  • No more six-month grace period on interest.
    • Students will now be charged interest on the provincial portion of their OSAP loans immediately after graduation, eliminating the six-month grace period. Previously, students had a six-month grace period before interest started to accrue on OSAP debt. Now, interest begins as soon as students graduate.
    • VPEd’s Take: “This means you’re not going to have the opportunity to get a steady job, or even your first paycheque, before the interest on your loan starts accruing.”
  • Reducing annual income threshold for repayment from $35,000 to $25,000.
    • Students are now obliged to repay OSAP loans once they make over $25,000.
  • Students whose parents make more than $140k/year will no longer be eligible for grants, only loans.
  • Decrease in amount of grants and a shift toward loans.
    • VPEd’s Take:
      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. Essentially, it's a cut in the amount of money that the government is giving to students."
  • Decrease in funding for students in second-entry programs
    • For students in second-entry programs or attending out-of-province institutions, the grant-to-loan ratio will now be a minimum 50 per cent loan.
  • Decrease in loan amounts for many (but not all) students
    • VPEd’s Take:
      While a reduction in the cost of domestic student tuition is beneficial to students, the decision to reduce OSAP eligibility and replace grant funding with loans will not address the financial burden placed on many students who are unable to take on high levels of debt.

Financial Resources

Changes to OSAP mean that students from many families will leave university with an increased load of student debt. While we will continue to advocate for an equitable and fair student financial aid program, you may consider exploring these financial resources in the meantime for assistance:

Tuition cut and freeze for domestic students

  • In 2019-20, tuition fees for all years of study will be decreased by 10% for the following:
    • existing full-time and part-time regular fee programs 
    • new programs that were approved for implementation in 2019-20 and future years.
    • VPEd’s Take:
      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 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.
  • In 2020-21, there will be a tuition fee freeze:
    • institutions are expected to charge the same full-time and part-time tuition fees that they charged in 2019-20, for each program and year of study 
    • students enrolled in the first year of a program in 2020-21 are to pay the same tuition as students enrolled in first year of the program in 2019-20.
    • VPEd’s Take:
      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, or raising tuition for international students, whose tuition costs are not regulated.

What does this mean for International students?

  • International students will not receive a reduction to their tuition costs. 
    • The tuition cut and freeze applies only to domestic students. International students make up approximately 20 per cent of UWaterloo undergrads and 40 per cent of UWaterloo grad students.
    • VPEd’s Take:
      "We see International students being unprotected by the government, leaving it up to universities to make difficult decisions between increasing international tuition even more than it already has, or cut expenses that will affect the quality of education."

Ancillary fee changes

All ancillary fees that are not deemed “essential” as according to government framework are now optional when you pay your fee bill. Additionally:

  • Fees are required to be more clearly communicated
  • Fees have to be opted out of online
  • Fees cannot be unreasonably bundled
  • Fees cannot be collected and then refunded, with some exceptions for administered insurance programs (such as the Health & Dental Plans, which require proof-of-coverage for refund).

Student Association Fees and Your Student Experience

Some of your student association fees are now optional. 

VPEd’s Take:
We support your ability to have choices on your fees, and we will continue to support our clubs, services, and advocacy efforts that may be impacted as a result. But the provincial government only consulted partisan student groups when determining what students consider essential to our university experience; and what those specific groups consider non-essential does not represent what might be essential for all students.” 

Fees that the government has deemed “non-essential” go toward funding clubs, services, events, and advocacy efforts to the University and municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

As these changes mean there will no longer be predictable funding, this could impact your student experience in areas like:

  • Clubs
    • Your ability to take part in a club, start a club, hold a club executive role
  • Events
    • Welcome Week, including Fall Carnival, Warriors on Ice, and Warrior Breakfast
  • Student Services
    • The Bike Centre
    • Co-op Connection
    • Off-Campus Community
    • Sustainable Campus Initiative
    • International and Canadian Student Network (ICSN)
  • Advocacy on Your Behalf on issues like:
    • OSAP (Provincial)
    • Housing (City and Region)
    • Tuition (Provincial and University)
    • Snow-plowing and pedestrian/biker safety (Municipal)
    • Public transit (Regional)
    • Co-op Fees (University)
    • Immigration laws (Federal)
    • Review and development of academic rules and University policy that affects students (University) 

Please take the time to understand what each optional fee includes and make an informed decision.

What you can do

When faced with the choice to opt out, the number one most important thing you can do is to make an informed decision. Understand what those fees provide to you, and if you don’t feel they are impactful to you - consider how that experience or support is essential for another student.

You can also:

  • Talk to your friends
  • Email your MPP
  • Chat with Feds Execs

What we’re doing

We will continue to advocate for:

  • an equitable and fair student financial aid program;
  • proper, thorough student consultations with a diverse set of students that better reflect what all students consider “essential,” instead of consulting only with partisan student groups;
  • the government to respect the democratic decision-making process of students by referendum and their outcomes;
  • the ability of student associations to meet the needs of their members;
  • and other policies that improve the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education in Ontario.

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on since the announcement:


January 2019: the Government of Ontario announced a cut to tuition, cuts to OSAP grants, and the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), a policy that would classify a number of previously mandatory student experience fees as non-mandatory. 

Without consulting students, the government decided which experiences are essential to our student life, and which aren’t. 

Students now have the ability to opt out of ‘non-essential’ services, as designated by the government.

As a result of the SCI policy, the quality and quantity of services that Federation of Students provides are at risk. 

How Will the Recent Changes to Post-secondary Funding Affect You? 

Additional Information