By Carolyn Turgeon
In order to fund the new tuition grant, the Liberals have decided to eliminate some other forms of financial aid and scholarship.
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will be cutting the Ontario Textbook and Technology grant and the Ontario Trust for Student Support in the 2012-13 academic year.
They will also be phasing out the Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship so that current recipients will continue to receive it, but no new scholarships will be awarded in 2012-13.
“[The grant will take] a targeted and streamlined approach to providing additional financial aid for students,” said Tanya Blazina, spokesperson for the ministry, in a press release. “Current scholarships and bursaries that did not strongly contribute to improved access will be phased out to better serve a greater number of lower and middle income families.”
Emily Wong, a second-year graphic communications management student, has been receiving the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship since she started at Ryerson.
“It’s an entrance scholarship, so I applied in grade 12,” said Wong. “It’s renewable as long as you maintain a 3.5 grade point average.”
Winners can receive anywhere from $100 to $3,500 per year. Wong receives a little over $3,000 based on her financial need and academic performance.
“I worked really hard and I was really fortunate to receive such a high amount,” she said. “It helped compensate for a lot of my tuition. I basically didn’t have to pay for anything for the last two years.”
Wong is pleased that her scholarship will continue as long as she keeps her grades up, but feels future students are losing out.
“They should still reward those that tried the extra mile and qualified from a lesser position,” she said. “I know the requirement [for the grant] is a combined income of less than $160,000, but what about the families that make a lot less than that?”
Wong understands the grant will help many students but points out it can only give them $1,600, approximately half of what the scholarship can offer.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said he has always believed strongly in financial aid being a priority.
“When there’s a limited amount of resources and more has to go to aid then I’m generally supportive of it,” said Levy. “[But] I don’t necessarily believe that every student that is receiving funds needs the aid.”
He also points out that some students may need more aid than made available, like single parents.
“My priority has always been financial aid and I’ve put that over freezing tuition fees and scholarship programs,” said Levy.
Blazina said the government will also redirect savings from OSAP, post-secondary programs and employment and training programs to help fund the grant.