Students from low-income to middle-income families can now expect an increase of up to 50% in federal grants for this academic year.
Full-time students from low-income families can expect a raise from $2,000 to $3,000 in grants, while those from middle-income families can expect to receive $1,200 instead of $800.
Part-time students from low-income families will see a raise from $1,200 to $1,800 per year.
The announcement follows the Liberal government’s 2016 provincial budget, which sets out the Ontario Student Grant for families with household incomes under $50,000.
The Ontario Student Grant is expected to begin in 2017.
“The fact that free tuition has been introduced for low-income students in Ontario [starting September 2017] is a step in the right direction,” said UTMSU’s president Nour Alideeb in an email to The Medium.
Alideeb stated that this is a result of many lobby sessions that UTMSU and the Canadian Federation of Students has taken part in.
UTMSU has, however, expressed their concern about the changes that will be made to the Repayment Assistance Plan.
Starting this November, only graduates earning an annual salary of $25,000 or more will be required to start repaying their loans.
“The average undergraduate student debt is $26,800 [for domestic students], so expecting students to start repaying their loans once they start making a yearly income of $25,000 is unreasonable, in my opinion,” stated Alideeb.
UTMSU are planning a campaign called Fight the Fees to educate the students about the concerns regarding the funding of post-secondary education.
Through meeting with the university and local members of the provincial parliament, UTMSU plans to continue lobbying for the removal of interest on existing loans, converting loans into non-repayable grants, and working towards the elimination of tuition fees completely.