Student reps applaud plan to reform
By Laura Katsirdakis
Many can agree the Ontario Student Assistance Plan needs improvement.
At the University of Toronto, both student groups and administration
have come together to devise a plan on how OSAP should be improved.
The process for developing a proposal to improve OSAP has
been on-going for over a year, said Chris Ramsaroop, president
of the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students at U
of T. The result is a 13-step plan, which was recently agreed
upon and put online, he explained.
"There were three student groups involved - the Graduate Students'
Union, the Student Administrative Council and [APUS]," Ramsaroop
said. "The 13-step plan represents the point of intersection
between the administration and students."
Ramsaroop added he was concerned about how the plan was being
pushed. If it is used to further raise student debt, he noted,
APUS would withdraw their support for it.
"The [13-point] plan is intended to benefit all post-secondary
students in Ontario," said Alex Artful-Dodger, VP-operations
for SAC. "We felt the need to back up our points with hard
data," she explained. For example, Artful-Dodger said a consulting
firm was hired to research the cost of living for students
in various situations in different cities in Ontario.
Some of the main issues the plan addressed were aid for part-time
students, raising the limit of OSAP students can receive and
giving students comprehensive reports on why they did or did
not get the amount of assistance they applied for.
"SAC is 100 per cent behind this plan - we only hope the provincial
government [whichever party wins this week's election] will
listen to the suggestions," Artful-Dodger said. "The plan was
released formally to all three major provincial parties [two
weeks ago]," Artful-Dodger said, adding they are now waiting
for a response.
All students in Ontario get the same maximum amount of assistance,
but this does not take into account it costs far more to live
in some cities than others, Artful-Dodger said.
Glen Tigert, director of Western's student financial services,
said any kind of OSAP reform would be welcome. He added he
agrees with most of the 13 points.
"The maximum amount a student can receive in an OSAP loan
has not gone up since 1995, yet tuition has gone up more than
130 per cent in that period," said Dave Ford, VP-education
for the University Students' Council at Western.
"There is an intense need to look at access to post-secondary
education," said Adam Spence, executive director of the Ontario
Undergraduate Student Alliance. "This is the right time for
issues of reform to student aid - the OSAP system hasn't been
reformed in about 10 years."