OSAP: The Basics, Application and...

OSAP: The Basics, Application and Concerns

by Erin Kelly
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What is OSAP? If you are an up and coming post-secondary student in Ontario, you might have already heard about OSAP. The acronym stands for Ontario Student Assistance Program. It is a government-run program to help post-secondary and mature students finance their education. You can apply for OSAP when you are ready to go to college, or university. It has helped many students (all over Canada, as well) get the extra money they need in order to achieve their educational goals. OSAP is specifically for Ontario students, but the government also has assistance programs for each province in Canada. It can be used for tuition costs and living costs. Other than paying tuition, you need a place to live, and money to buy things like groceries and personal items- OSAP will help you get by. Along with money you have saved yourself from working, parents, or rich uncles, you will be on your way to accomplishing your goals with OSAP. OSAP also gives you a chance to gain credit history by making payments each month while in school, or after school. It is important to start building a good credit record at a young age; for it will help you obtain things like a house or car in the future- every bit counts!


It is easy to apply to OSAP. All you have to do is go to the OSAP website and fill in the application, and make sure you are qualified to receive funding. However, there are some limiting conditions when applying for OSAP. Your total household (parents and you) income can only reach a certain amount. This varies from situation to situation, but if the household income is too high, OSAP may state that you do not need their help, or you will get a very low amount of funding. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ website has a well-rounded list of requirements you should read before applying. If everything matches up, you’re in the gold. You can apply to any post-secondary institution in the world and receive OSAP, but it has to be approved by OSAP, first. Ontario.ca states that you will also receive an automatic 30% tuition discount when you apply.

Link to register for OSAP: https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPSecurityWeb/public/registration.xhtml?lang=en

Maximum funding for a full-time student:

For one academic year:

  • single, no dependents: $12,410
  • married or common-law or sole-support parent: $19,210

(stated September 30th, 2015)

Paying it back:

All students that receive OSAP must pay it back; essentially, it a very low-interest loan. It can be rough, paying student loans back. Sometimes, depending on your career trajectory, you may be paying back your OSAP for years. I know of college and university professors that still haven’t paid back all their OSAP! The truth is that if you get it, it will be haunting you until it is all paid back. It will be the little itch in the back of your head that you won’t quite satisfy. In an article called “The Misuse of OSAP Money” from The Sun, a student named Joe Brown states that “When you’re 17-18, you don’t think about paying it back in four or five years.”[1] This can be true for many eager students. It is up to you to be responsible, and set yourself up for the best results. If you think it might be a better idea to work for a year or more before going to college, do it. The reality is debt can make you feel like a slave to money. If you save up a decent amount of money for yourself and have OSAP as a backup, great. If you need the maximum amount of OSAP and even more money to go to school, you may want to consider working for a while. Everyone has a choice, so don’t feel pressured by anyone else but yourself!


[1] http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/20/the-misuse-of-osap-money

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