The deadline to apply for the Ontario 30 per cent tuition rebate has been extended to March 1 in an attempt to allow more students to apply, but many are still being overlooked.
Executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Rylan Kinnon said although the government has been cooperative, and has taken the group’s advice before, there are still issues with who qualifies for the rebate.
“When the grant was first announced we made some recommendations to extend the eligibility requirements, specifically to extend the eligibility period for students with disabilities to five years, from the standard four, and the government actually took that recommendation,” Kinnon said.
“We would like to see it be easier for students with dependents to be eligible for OTG, we’d like to see the eligibility period for aboriginal students extended to five years,” he said.
Professor Glen Jones of the department of theory and policy studies in education at the University of Toronto, said initiatives like the tuition rebate are often geared towards the largest group of voters, not the group most in need.
“The policy question is: ‘who do you want to give the money to?’ Assuming you have a finite amount of financial support. The challenge is that, politically, governments want to give that money to as many people as they possibly can, because that’s the electorate,” Jones said.
Humber College’s Manager of Financial Aid, Holsee Sahid, said when the rebate was first announced as a campaign promise, the requirements were vague and misleading.
“My understanding of it, when the McGuinty government was going and campaigning and so on, they had said ‘students’, they did not specify that only this group of students would be eligible,” Sahid said.
Sahid said she had hoped the rebate would be available to all Ontario students.
Jones said by assisting a large group of people, the smaller groups that need assistance the most are done a disservice.
“The notion was to do this as a big financial support mechanism for a very large number of students. Well, the moment you do that, it means you have less support available for students who potentially, we could have actually been paying 100 per-cent of their tuition,” he said.
According to Sahid, so far roughly two-thirds of Humber’s student population applied for both OSAP and the rebate, with about half that number being granted both.
Information on the rebate and eligibility can be found here.