Let OSAP teach you a lesson

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By Pete Nowak

OSAP can teach you a lot about life. You can learn how to effectively manage your money, and how to work hard to repay that wonderful giving government that lent you the money. Or, like in my case, it can teach you how to live like a despicable slob, and how to lie, cheat and steal from that same government.

I graduated from Ryerson in April, and now I’m in the “real world” with a “real job” and a “real debt” — we’re talking $24,000, or something. I can’t remember exactly how much I owe—I lost count, but I did get way more than I needed. I thought “Hey! Free money! What the hell!”

So, $24,000 is what I would make my job in a year, before deducting taxes and living expenses. After taxes, I’d pull in about $18,000.

If I were to live on my own, in a semi-decent place, my expenses would probably leave me with about $4,000 to put towards my loan. It would take about six years to pay it off.

Yeah right. That’s just slightly optimistic. That’s not allowing all the things I’ve denied myself for years as a student. You know, things like heat, vegetables, toilet paper, Vitamin C, a dentist, clean clothes.

Now that I have money I gotta have me some of them goodies. Translation: “I’m paying off my loan” Realistically, I’m not going to put a significant dent in my debt until I get a high-paying job, which—of course—are plentiful for young people like me.

So what to do? Well, at the end of October I’m getting forms mailed to me, forms that will demand I start repaying. Fortunately, they also send me a “Loan Deferral” application. By filling out on of these godsends, and lying about how poor you are, you can avoid your Canada loan for three months and your Ontario loan for six.

And you can keep doing this, over and over.

That’s the plan until I either a) get a high-paying job, b) win the lottery, or c) join the crack trade.

OSAP can teach you a lot about life. You can learn how to lie, so you can get lots. You learn how easy it is to squander it, and then you learn how to cheat and weasel your way out of paying it back. You can justify it to yourself by thinking of it as giving the government a taste of its own medicine.

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