By Renata D’Aliesio
Moving away from home to go to university can be terrifying. Moving to a province like Ontario for school may seem like a nightmare.
Out-of-province students face residency-based restrictions on student aid in Ontario. They cannot apply for OSAP, not can they get a job through the work-study program.
To receive any government aid they must rely on their home province. And when it comes to finding a part-time job to help pay the bills, new residents at Ryerson are forced to trudge through Toronto’s mean streets on their own.
Every province has some form of residency-based restrictions, says Richard Jackson, a policy analyst with Ontario’s post-secondary education policy branch.
“Just because they show up, it doesn’t mean they are entitled to provincial funding,” says Jackson. “The province they came from should provide adequate funding for the students.”
First-year Ryerson journalism student Jennifer Kuo found nothing but disappointment when looking for a part time job. The British Columbia resident applied to the Ontario Work-Study Plan not knowing her residency status made her ineligible for the program.
“I was really upset when I found out that I didn’t qualify,” says Kuo, who spent three years at the University of British Columbia studying English. “I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped,” she adds.
Kuo did not find a job until November. At that point she barely had enough money to cover her rent. She works anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a week at a marketing research firm, but she says working 30 hours a week would better satisfy her financial needs.
Karen Takenaka, Ryerson’s financial aid and awards officer, does not believe the Ontario government will change its residency-based restrictions.
“In the best of all worlds I would like to see all students receive government funding despite their residency,” says Takenaka. “In choosing to leave the person has to be aware of the additional costs.”
Calgary resident Steven Phan says he came to Ryerson because it is the only university in Canada to offer a bachelor’s degree in fashion.
“I would have preferred to stay in alberta because it’s financially easier,” says the first-year student.
Jackson points out while Ontario does impose residency-based restrictions it is not planning to implement Quebec’s policy of charging out-of-province students the average Canadian tuition. Starting September non-Quebec residents will pay more for university in that province than Quebec students.