By Latifa Abdin
In a December announcement, the Ontario government said that it would be making changes to rules regarding how tuition fees are paid in order to make it easier – and cheaper – for students to pay for their education.
The changes, taking effect in the 2014-2015 school year, have come eight months after the government made a move to help reduce tuition fees over the next four years.
Students will now be allowed to pay their tuition fees in installments without being subject to late fees or interest rates.
Students who are on the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) and who complete their applications before August will not be required to pay their fees until they have received the loan money.
Universities and colleges will still be able to ask students for deposits but the deposits will be capped at $500 or 10 per cent of the tuition – whichever is greater – and will go towards the students’ tuition.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said that he believes Ontario legislators made the right decision.
“From a student’s perspective there is a lot of sense in it. I can understand it, it was logical,” said Levy. “By and large, it was a decision to support what the students wanted, and the government listened to students.”
Students with disabilities will also be able to pay on a per-credit basis, whether or not they are taking a full course load. Nearly 13,000 Ryerson students applied for OSAP this year. According to Ryerson’s financial service office, 30 per cent were still waiting to receive their funding in late September.
Students who paid after the Sept. 30 deadline were charged a fee of $70 and a monthly interest charge of 1.25 per cent on their account.
Universities and colleges will now not be able to ask students to pay their fees before August. “I think it’s great that [the deposit] is going to our tuition,” said Aesha Patel, a first-year biology student.
For some students, these changes come as a victory after continued efforts to bring down tuition fees, but for others, the changes are coming too late.
“The change would have been better if it started earlier,” said Brinda Bala, a third-year nursing student.
Bala said it needs to be clearer to students what their tuition is being used for.
“There is not enough transparency to where the money is going,” she said.