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How to get the most out of your student benefits this year

By Anastasia Blosser, Dexter LeRuez and Gabriela Silva Ponte

Whether you are an incoming or returning student, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) offers a variety of health, financial and other benefits. 

Here’s your guide to navigating and applying for some of them.

Health benefits

TMU’s health and wellness programs can be accessed through the student wellbeing site. All students are automatically covered for health and dental insurance and must opt-out if they do not want to be charged. 

Full-time and part-time students are treated under two different plans while international students have the option of applying for coverage under a separate provider. 

Full-time undergraduate students are covered under the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) health and dental plan. They are charged a fee of $330 that is reflected in tuition statements. The benefits cover prescriptions drugs, paramedical visits, mental health services and other medical support. 

Under the TMSU health and dental plan, 80 per cent of the costs for prescription drugs are covered with a maximum of $5000 per benefit year. Students are also insured for 100 per cent of birth control costs and 65 per cent of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. 

The plan also covers up to $75 for an eye exam and $150 for eyeglasses or contact lenses. This amount automatically renews two years after it is initially used. 

Students are insured for up to $100 per ambulance ride and all costs incurred by a paramedical practitioner. 

Though students have the option of receiving mental health support through TMU, the plan also provides up to $1000 for the services of mental health practitioners off-campus. 

Students enrolled in a part-time degree program are covered under the Toronto Metropolitan Association of Part-time Students’ health and dental plan. The benefits are provided through Green Shield Canada and cover drug, paramedical, dental, vision and accidental.

Graduate students are covered by the Toronto Metropolitan Graduate Students’ Union and also use Green Shield Canada as their insurance provider. Their benefits include prescription drugs, dental and vision. Full-time graduate students are automatically enrolled in the plan, while part-time students have the ability to opt-in. All graduate students are also eligible to add their spouse, common-law partner and/or dependent children onto their plan. 

International students can apply for coverage under the University Health Insurance Plan, which is similar to Ontario’s health insurance. 

Costs and coverage vary from one plan to another, letting students customise their premiums to their needs.

The Medical Centre is a non-profit clinic that provides physical and mental health services to current TMU students and staff. They offer immunizations, assessments, physicals and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. The Medical Centre does not treat major emergencies or accept walk-ins. Students must bring their provincial health card and OneCard to every appointment. 

Students with disabilities can create personalized academic accommodation plans to reduce barriers to education. These plans can modify how students receive course material or how they are evaluated. Documentation is required and typically includes a psychoeducational or disability assessment by a healthcare practitioner. 

Through the Centre for Student Development & Counselling, students can receive mental health assistance or book an appointment with a trained professional. Individual and group counselling are free and students can request to meet with a counsellor who is Black, Indigenous or another identified person of colour. 

The university also offers a peer support program, where students with shared experiences can meet together to discuss their emotions. 

Consent Comes First provides free and confidential support to TMU students who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence. The centre provides referrals, educational programs and assistance in the decision to report acts of violence. 

Financial benefits

TMU offers a variety of prestigious scholarships that can provide students with financial assistance. 

The AwardSpring platform, which can be found in the “Scholarships and Awards” subheading of the “Admissions” section of TMU’s website, includes all of the scholarships offered by the university.

According to the AwardSpring website, the platform offers a fool-proof and simple student experience to assist students in obtaining the required documents for scholarship applications and making sure they are submitted on time.

Additionally, TMU offers the Student Financial Assistance (SFA) Emergency Bursary to all full-time undergraduate students.

According to TMU’s website, the bursary is typically available the week of or after study week and can be awarded to students enrolled in a domestic undergraduate, continuing education or law program undergoing an unexpected emergency or crisis that affects a student’s success in completing the semester.

There is also an emergency for graduate students under the Graduate Emergency Bursary, while international students can seek aid through the Emergency Bursary for International Students.

If students are still confused on how to finance their education, TMU’s ServiceHub has financial advisors available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions regarding financial assistance. 

Students can contact TMU’s ServiceHub through their website, or in person in the Podium Building in room POD-150.

Tax resources

Students can access their Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity and Other Income (T4A), Tuition and Enrollment Certificate (T2202) and any other documents necessary for taxes on the MyServiceHub online portal. 

By accessing the “Financial Account” section on the school’s student portal, students can request an inquiry and get access to these documents. 

Whether you’ll be filing taxes on your own, or asking your accountant to do so, these documents will come in handy when tax season rolls around, no matter if you or someone else pays for your tuition.

Other benefits

TMU has a Tri-Mentoring Program (TMP) which aims to provide students with an “experience to find their sense of belonging on campus,” according to its website.

Students can apply by signing up with their student login information through the TMP’s website.

Undergraduate students in first-year can take part in Peer Mentoring, where they are matched with upper-year students in their same program. These students may also be matched up with a student with similar interests, to support the arduous transition into university. 

Students in third-year or above can participate in Career Mentoring, where they are matched with a professional in their chosen field. These students can expect to be given guidance and encouragement as they work towards their objectives.

The Career Mentoring program includes Specialized Career Mentoring Programs like the Black Graduate Career Mentoring, Race Forward and more for qualified students who would like more specific training.

Lastly, undergraduate students at TMU can benefit from Group Mentoring, which hosts regular community meetings for equity-deserving students. The groups eligible for this include members of the 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous, Jewish and Lusophone/Portuguese speaking communities. Other groups eligible include mature students, students with disabilities, women in STEM and more. 

Graduate students can also benefit from mentoring programs, like the Career Mentoring and Group Mentoring programs.

GRADMentors is a program where graduate students are matched with upper-year undergraduate students interested in pursuing graduate studies.  For graduate students, helping and mentoring others can serve as a learning experience of its own. 

TMP also includes Interfaith Programming, which aims to provide students with safe spaces where open, faith related conversations, can be held, according to the TMP’s website.

The TMP’s website also highlights Student Action Programming. The program is another way in which students are provided with a learning environment where they are able to practice the techniques and skills that are necessary to “make a positive change” in whatever areas they may be interested in.

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