DUDE, WHERE’S MY BUDGET?

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By Carmen Chai

Students looking for budgeting advice from Ryerson’s financial assistance office are getting short-changed.

“I have so many bills and I don’t know where my money should go,” said Jonathan Chan-Choong, a first-year nutrition and food student who is still adjusting to the small size of his bank account.

After waiting in the OSAP line-up for nearly 50 minutes, the staff person who greeted him at the counter couldn’t answer his questions and directed him to another line.

“I’m…pissed from wasting time on yes or no questions.” Chan-Choong said. “Instead of being sent to different places, I want to sit down and talk directly to one person.”

He knows he would be first in line for a financial advisor, if Ryerson offered one.

A look at Ryerson’s financial assitance website shows in-person staff can only help with OSAP, scholarships and bursaries or work study programs.

Calls to financial assistance were not returned.

Both the University of Toronto and York University provide students with financial advisors.

At U of T, there are professional financial counselling staff at each campus and college offering guidance on learning how to budget and ways of managing debt.

Carole Umana, the director of Student Services of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at U of T, said the university supports students with financial aid in cases where students are ineligible for OSAP. OISE is a graduate studies branch of U of T.

Similar in-person services are offered at York.

Ryerson president Sheldon Levy hasn’t heard any complaints.

“I haven’t heard anyone come to me and say [there’s a] counselling problem. I’ve heard students say the level of tuition is too high, but I’ve never heard it as an issue on counselling.”

“Most students in trouble [financially] already tried OSAP and bursaries,” said Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students’ Union. “They don’t have many [options].”

Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of students at Ryerson who would need the help.

“[My parents] paid for my tuition so I don’t actually know how much it is,” said Stephanie Flynn, a first-year sociology student.

According to Flynn, she saved up $9,000 to pay for her spot in residence, and has saved another $2,000 for her living expenses for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, the money is disappearing faster than she thought.

“I can see (needing) another $1,000 the way I’m going through it,” she said.

– with files from Eric Lam

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