Panning out Pan Am games volunteering

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By Jacob Dubé    

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is offering benefits to university students who are volunteering for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games this summer — but are they worth it?

Volunteers will receive an additional six-month interest-free extension on their pre-existing six-month interest-free repayment period. The current provincial rate is the prime rate of interest plus 1 per cent.

The average four-year undergraduate university OSAP debt is $22,207 — equalling six monthly interest-free payments of $3,701, but payments are often made beyond this six month interest-free period.

Fresh graduates working on a minimum wage salary with full time hours earn $2,200 monthly.

With the volunteering extension incentive, monthly OSAP payments would lower to $1,850 per month.

Along with the grace period, students no longer have to input their

income prior to their grant period — allowing students to receive a bigger loan, as OSAP doesn’t take into account students’ income.

For first-year journalism student Sherry Li, both benefits were an incentive to volunteer.

“I don’t know what the job market is going to be like when I graduate and extra time to pay back the loan would be pretty good, especially if it was a substantial amount of money,” Li said.

To be eligible for the OSAP benefits, students are required to work a minimum of 12 eight- to-10 hour shifts at the Pan Am Games. If a student were to spend that time working a summer minimum-wage job, they would earn a minimum of $1,056.

Teddy Katz, chief spokesperson for the Pan Am Games, said he couldn’t answer whether or not volunteering is worth more than working the same amount of time.

“For those who have the time and ability, it’s a great opportunity to get a once in a lifetime type of experience,” Katz said.

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