Financial Aid Available for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities in Ontario
Across Canada, financial assistance is available for post-secondary students with disabilities. The details (such as eligibility, amount available, and the application process) tend to vary from province to province, territory to territory, so in this series of articles, I devote one article to one part of Canada. This article will feature what financial assistance Ontario has for post-secondary students with disabilities.
Before I dive into the details, let’s go over some background information. Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is the province’s financial aid office. The homepage can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/osap-ontario-student-assistance-program. Compared to the corresponding offices in the other provinces and territories, OSAP is slightly different. Students are encouraged to not contact OSAP for assistance; rather, they are told to get their answers from their post-secondary school’s financial aid office. OSAP has a page where you may search for the contact information of your school’s financial aid office: https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/PostsecondaryEducation/OSAP/Help/Contacts/index.htm.
Note that OSAP funding is both federal and provincial. You submit one application and with that, you are considered for student loans and grants from both provincial and federal levels of government. For students with disabilities, this statement comes with an asterisk: to apply for financial aid, you have to submit two separate applications. The first is the online OSAP application that all Ontario students needing financial aid submit. The second is a paper application for funding from two sources (the Ontario Bursary for Students with Disabilities and Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities). This second application, unlike the first, must be submitted to your school’s financial aid office. The 2018-2019 application can be found at: https://osap.gov.on.ca/prodconsumption/groups/forms/documents/forms/prdr018607.pdf.
- Ontario Bursary for Students with Disabilities
The Ontario Bursary for Students with Disabilities will provide up to $2,000 per academic year towards disability-related educational costs, including services and equipment. To be eligible, you must self-identify as having a disability (either permanent or temporary) in addition to being approved for either OSAP funding or an Institution-Funded Special Bursary. You may be enrolled in either full-time or part-time studies.
- Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities
The Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities will cover up to $8,000 per academic year for disability-related educational services and equipment. It has eligibility requirement almost identical to that of the Ontario Bursary for Students with Disabilities.
The most significant difference is that this Student Grant requires that you have a permanent disability while the Bursary allows permanent or temporary disabilities. So if you have a permanent disability, you submit the second, paper application and you will be considered for funding from both sources. And if you have a temporary disability, you submit the exact same application but you will be considered for funding from the Bursary only.
Knowing that you have to complete two separate applications, do you want to know why I recommend that you complete the online OSAP application first? If you are not eligible to receive OSAP funding for whatever reason, you will not be eligible for either the Bursary or the Student Grant. There is a loophole of sorts here: for students attending Ontario public universities and colleges, if you receive an Institution-Funded Special Bursary, that is equivalent to receiving OSAP funding. The eligibility criteria seem few and simple—but ensure you satisfy all of it before you apply.