By: Aaron L. Pope
A week in the life of Joey Mawer can be summed up in these words: Work, school, more school, more work, some time with his girlfriend, more work, more school.
Mawer, 22, a third-year electrical engineering technology student, in short, is living like so many other college students — including his relying on Ontario student loans to pay tuition, buy books and subsidize his monthly cost of living while in school.
Mawer lives below the poverty line so he is able to get a little less than $10,000 a year in student loans. He relies on teaching music a few hours a week to pay rent and buy food.
He is also just one of nearly 300,000 OSAP recipients who encountered new restrictions this fall. And even though he hasn’t received any funding nearly one month into classes, he says he understands it is a bureaucratic process that takes time.
“No amount of bitching and complaining is going to get it done any faster,” said Mawer.
It’s a patient view considering one of the issues facing students this year is the piecemeal distribution of OSAP, which when fully implemented, should make the whole process easier.
Mawer, however, says he wasn’t made aware of the changes and simply went about applying for OSAP in the same manner as he had the past two years.
He was only alerted to the need for the changes two weeks ago when he went to check on the status of his application only to find nothing had been done with it.
Now he must wait at least another week to receive funding, and faces a $100 late fee because he is not able to pay his tuition before the deadline.
He’s not alone and anyone receiving OSAP this year will know how they’ve left some students in a lurch.
For its part, the college concedes some problems.
“A small number of schools have experienced delays with their confirmation of enrolment process, however these difficulties have been addressed and students will be receiving their funding shortly,” said Gyula Kovacs, senior media relations/issues coordinator for the colleges and universities ministry. “The Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities has worked closely with these institutions to ensure that future disbursements will occur in a timely manner.”
“This fall was the first time that colleges confirmed student enrolment electronically and Algonquin College was one of the first colleges to send the electronic confirmation to the ministry [of Training, Colleges and Universities], as with all technological projects, the system experienced a few issues,” said Kathryn Moore, Algonquin’s registrar.
However, future payments will be processed more quickly and efficiently and, ultimately, deposited into student accounts sooner.
“A small number of colleges and universities experienced difficulties in confirming their students’ enrolment via these new systems, resulting in minor funding delays for their students,” said Kovacs. “These have all been resolved, and students across Ontario are getting OSAP funding at the same time or earlier than in previous years. As of today, 94 per cent of eligible students have received their funding.”
For students who don’t have anything in savings, parents, roommates and landlords are forced to pick up the financial slack.
Corina Tysick,19, is a first-year pre-animation and illustration student who also had problems with delays in the application process, partly due to delays by the college in informing OSAP that she was in fact attending classes.
When it comes to OSAP, Tysick makes this recommendation.
“If you can avoid it, don’t ever use OSAP.”
The Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) is meant to replace the old loan agreements with the federal and provincial governments._According to www.canlearn.ca, it is a multi-year agreement that is supposed to make applying for and receiving OSAP easier and more efficient.
As long as you don’t take more than two years off school, this form will not have to be resubmitted every year.