Victory for students as government announces modernization of student aid

TORONTO, March 29 /CNW/ - Acting directly on the recommendations of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), the McGuinty government today announced an $81 million package of improvements to Ontario's system of student financial aid that will increase the accessibility of higher education for those with the greatest need. The reforms touch on all aspects of the financial aid system, from fixing the need assessment formula, to increasing the amount of aid available, to enhancing the loan repayment process.

"These improvements represent a huge step forward for students relying on government aid to access higher education," said Dan Moulton, OUSA President. "Though entering a period of fiscal restraint, the government has indicated a continued willingness to provide students with the support they require."

Last October, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance presented a submission to the Ontario government requesting a number of specific improvements to the financial aid system. With this announcement, five of OUSA's key recommendations will become reality, including:

    
    -   Increasing weekly loan limits (from $140 to $150 per week),
    -   Doubling the exemption on in-study income (from $50 to $103 per
        week),
    -   Implementing a six-month interest-free grace period before loans must
        be repaid
    -   Tying the maximum assessment for textbook and supplies costs to the
        rate of inflation
    -   Implementing the more generous Repayment Assistance Plan, currently
        in use by the federal government
    

"Students appreciate that the government is listening to our concerns and working with us to address them," added Moulton. "With these reforms, students will have access to more aid, enjoy a simplified application process, and receive increased government support during loan repayment."

Additionally, the government has announced a two-year continuation of the current tuition framework, which caps average tuition increases at five per cent across each institution.

"The sustained regulation of tuition fees is promising; however, students in Ontario continue to pay the highest fees in the country," said Alexi White, OUSA Executive Director. "We look forward to a continuing dialogue with the government on ensuring a fair cost-sharing model."

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance represents the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full- and part-time university students at seven Ontario institutions.

For a copy of OUSA's submission, Ontario: A Province of Knowledge, visit www.ousa.ca

SOURCE Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact Alvin Tedjo, OUSA Director of Communications & Public Relations, work: (416) 341-9948, cell: (647) 669-6885, email: communications@ousa.on.ca

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Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

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