Lending student solutions
By Wes Brown
Western's University Students' Council has become the first to pass the Ontario University Student Alliance's new proposals on the Ontario Student Assistance Plan.
Twenty recommendations put forth by OUSA regarding the revamping of the old OSAP system have been in the works for over eight weeks, said Andrew Boggs, executive director of OUSA.
According to Boggs, some of the recommendations would directly address the needs for those from poverty levels and low income communities, something which has never existed before. He also said Registered Retirement Savings Plan contributions, scholarships less than $1,500 and Millennium Scholarships would be exempted from the new OSAP assessment.
The highlights of the proposal also include changes on who receives assistance, how much and details on how and when loans will be paid back.
"All OUSA members will bring the proposals back to their councils and fine tune the details of the policy. These details will be discussed further in a meeting on Nov. 13. A polished policy document will be released to the public shortly after," Boggs said.
Boggs said the recommendations of the statement are separated into three sections, including resource assessment, regional sensitivity and repayment methods.
"The expectation of pre-study earnings going toward educational costs has been changed from 80 per cent to 60 per cent. Also, the elimination of the minimum parental contribution requirement is key. Other key aspects include extending the Ontario Interest Relief Program to five years and capping the repayment period at 15 years," Boggs said.
VP-education for the USC, Nick Iozzo, said the proposal was totally endorsed by the USC. "This charts the same direction for over 125,000 university students when dealing with the Ontario government. We now not only have problems, we have the solution to these problems," he said.
Iozzo also emphasized exactly where all the OUSA changes were coming from. "The recommendations [for OSAP] in the proposal were put forth by the students. The vice-presidents from all of the universities that make up the OUSA board sat down and created this document," he said.
Sajid Butt, VP-university affairs at the University of Windsor, stressed this aspect of the policy. "Whenever you talk [post secondary] financial need it should come from the source students. These changes have been made by the students for the students," Butt said.