Student Loans – The Basics
As an Ontario resident, you have two different types of student loans you can apply for. The first is federally mandated (Canada Student Loan) and the second is from the provincial government itself (Ontario Student Assistance Program – OSAP). You can also apply for both at the same time using the Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan program, which is accessed via the National Student Loans Service Centre.
Sounds good – but where do I go to apply?
The best way to apply is online via the OSAP website. You will need to register to use the site by providing some personal information, including your social insurance number.
I’ve registered – now what?
Gather information about your financial situation. You will be asked to provide an overview of your expenses for the school year (rent, utilities, food, etc.). The more information you can provide the better. You will be asked to print out and sign a declaration indicating that the information you have provided is true and accurate. If a parent or guardian will be helping you out financially during the school year, this information needs to be included on your application and they will need to sign their own separate declaration form.
How much money will I get?
The amount you get will depend on your unique financial situation. This is why it is important to provide as much information as possible during the application process. The maximum amount you can receive per week is $210 from the Canada student loan portion and $150 per week for the Ontario portion. It is important to note that you will not be given money weekly – it will be paid out to you in a lump sum at the beginning of your semester. This means budgeting is extremely important!
When can I apply?
If you are going to be attending school in September 2012, you can apply as early as May 2012. The latest you can apply is 90 days before the end of your study period. It is recommend to apply as soon as you are able to prevent any delays in receiving your funding.
My application was accepted – when do I get my loan?
Shortly before the academic year commences, you will be either sent a cheque or a funding certificate. Most students will receive a funding certificate. This certificate is a legal form that authorizes the release of a loan to the student via the National Student Loans Service Centre. This certificate must be taken to a designated Canada Post outlet to be converted into your student loan (you can find a designated outlet by visiting the following link: http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/onlinetools/canadapost/cp_clf/on.shtml)
You will need to provide a void cheque with your funding certificate so the funds can be electronically deposited into your bank account. You can arrange to have a cheque mailed to you if you prefer.
Your student loan will then be dispersed to you twice – the first at the beginning of your studies in September (generally, 60% of your total loan amount) and the second at the beginning of January.
You can always get help and more information by visiting the OSAP website directly. The following link will help you get the answers to the majority of your questions:
Good luck and happy studying!