BY MICHAEL DERUYTER
Tom Rutgers received over $6,000 from OSAP in his first year of university, even though his grandparents had set up a fund to pay for his tuition.
When applying for the loan, he lied and said he didn’t have a job and was going to live on campus. Rutgers then invested the loan, making about $180.
The fourth-year business student is one of many university students who have used an Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan for something other than school.
“Before I went to university, my mom suggested I get an OSAP loan and invest the money because the interest is so low,” said Rutgers.
The interest rate for an OSAP loan is 3.5 per cent, but the entire loan doesn’t always have to be paid immediately. Students may take up to 15 years to repay the debt and the government offers students many repayment options.
OSAP was set up to help students who need financial help with tuition and other school costs.
The amount of funding you receive from OSAP is calculated by subtracting allowable educational costs from their expected contribution.
However, as Rutgers demonstrates, the system is not without its loopholes.
“The school has nothing to do with the application system,” said Heather Lane Vetere, vice provost students, adding that the government requires stringent documentation.
“In the scheme of the whole program some students who don’t need it will inevitably get through, but the vast majority of students who need OSAP get it, and use it for their education,” said Vetere.
Adnan Ahmed, a second-year business management student, said he uses his $12,900 OSAP loan for school purposes only.
Ahmed said he has friends who use OSAP money when going out. Despite this, he doesn’t believe students taking advantage of the system is a problem.
“They have to pay it back anyways,” he says. “What does it matter what they spend it on?”