One of the first questions I asked myself when I was contemplating returning to school was: “Could I afford it?” All mature students face the same dilemma: time at school is time one could be earning money. How can I pay for books and tuition on top of regular living expenses without a full-time job? A great place to start is OSAP.
What is OSAP?
The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a mix of grants and loans provided by provincial and federal governments to financially assist students attending post-secondary education. A loan is borrowed money and must be paid back with interest. For OSAP, interest payments are made by the government while you’re in school and for 6 months after graduation. A grant is a type of aid that that you typically don’t have to pay back. Grants are usually awarded based on financial need or other factors.
Isn’t OSAP just for young students out of high school?
As long as you’re a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or Protected Person and a resident of Ontario, you’re eligible to apply for OSAP, regardless of age or status (e.g. married or a dependent student). The government considers other factors before offering you a loan and/or grant, including:
- Your financial situation
- Course load (full or part-time)
- Program of study
- Academic progress
OSAP Vs. Bank Loan
For me, returning to school was essentially contingent on qualifying for OSAP. Although I had some money saved, I knew that I would have to borrow to complete my degree. The main advantages of OSAP over traditional loans are:
Also note that receiving OSAP increases your eligibility for other sources of financial aid, such as bursaries and access to on campus employment opportunities. For more information on OSAP at York, go to osap.yorku.ca. To apply, click here.
Can Part-time Students Qualify?
If you haven’t yet applied for OSAP, you should give it serious consideration!