Mississauga-Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar visited UTM on March 31 to further clarify the provincial government’s new financial assistance method available to selected post-secondary students beginning next year.

According to Takhar, the new Ontario Student Grant introduced in February is a simpler system of providing aid. He said that the changes to financial assistance are due to the provincial government’s desire to make higher education more accessible to students from lower and middle incomes.

When the program is implemented in September 2017, over 150 thousand students will attend universities and colleges for free, with different rules in places for those whose parents make less than $50,000 and $83,000 a year. Under the new system, no student currently receiving government aid will receive any less and the grants will be indexed to inflation.

When asked what the grants will cover, Takhar said the program will cover tuition fees but not books or other fees.

One concern raised by a student in attendance was regarding students who did not receive aid from their parents, although their parents may be affluent enough to pay for tuition.

Outgoing UTM principal Deep Saini poses with Takhar.
Outgoing UTM principal Deep Saini poses with Takhar.

According to Takhar, because the grant system is linked to parental income, these students will not receive grants to cover tuition even if they don’t personally make enough money to fund their education without requiring financial assistance. Takhar explained this was one issue that will be discussed when seeking improvements to the new system.

Another student questioned what the amount of money given is based on. According to Takhar, granted funding is based on the average tuition for arts and sciences programs.