October 2016

3.8 Post Secondary Students

Legislative Authority

Sections 7(1), (2), (3) and 13(1) and (2) of the Act.
Sections 9, 13, 15, 39 and 54(1) of Regulation 134/98.

Audit Requirements

Documentation is on file to support the decisions made.
Written verification of loans, grants, bursaries and awards, indicating the amount received for education and living costs, is on file.
An Agreement to Reimburse form is completed and on file for participants receiving assistance pending receipt of a student loan.

Application of Policy

The obligation to pursue resources requires all applicants and participants attending, or planning to attend, a certified post-secondary educational institution full-time to make reasonable efforts to access loans under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act (MTCU Act) and/or the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act (CSFA Act) as a condition of eligibility for assistance.

Status Indians and Inuit students who are attending, or planning to attend, a certified post-secondary educational institution full-time must also apply for financial assistance for education through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). AANDC provides financial support to eligible Status Indians and Inuit students under broad authorities of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act to continue their education. Funding for individuals is available through two programs: the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University College Entrance Preparation Program.

Definition of Full-Time Attendance

An applicant or participant is considered to be a full-time student where he/she:

  • is enrolled, or is qualified to enrol, in at least 60% of a full course load at a designated post-secondary educational institution; (a student with a permanent disability may enrol in 40% of a full course load); and
  • is enrolled, or is qualified to enrol, in a program leading to a degree, diploma or certificate of at least 12 weeks in length over a period of 15 consecutive weeks.

Definition of Part-Time Attendance

An applicant or participant is considered to be a part-time student if he/she is taking 20% to 59% of a full course load. A person with a permanent disability is considered to be a part-time student if he/she is taking 20 to 39 percent of a full course load.

Earnings of Post-Secondary Students

The earnings of, and amounts paid under a training program to, persons attending full-time post-secondary school are exempt as income and assets, subject to certain conditions (see Directive 5.3: Earnings Exemptions and Directive 4.1: Summary of Assets for more information).

Eligibility for Assistance

A single applicant or participant who is in full-time attendance at a certified post-secondary educational institution is not eligible for assistance if he/she:

  • is in receipt of a loan under the MTCU Act or the CSFA Act; or
  • is not eligible for a loan under those Acts because of his/her parent's income level or because he/she defaulted on the payment of a previous loan under those Acts.

A sole support parent or member of a family benefit unit may be eligible for assistance if the amount of financial support received through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) or Canada Student Loans (CSL) for personal living costs does not exceed his/her budgetary requirements. In these situations, Ontario Works will provide a top-up to cover the difference between the personal living costs amount included in the loan(s) and his/her budgetary requirements as long as all other eligibility requirements are met.

Student loans, grants bursaries and awards provided under OSAP to dependent adults - who are not spouses included in the benefit unit - and part-time students are exempt as income. They are exempt as assets if the dependent adult and part time student remains in attendance in the program of study or training for which they are intended.Many post-secondary institutions in Ontario have internal student-aid emergency funds for students whose loans are delayed. Post-secondary students awaiting receipt of their student loans must access student-aid funds available through the institution prior to applying for Ontario Works. If his/her student loan has not been issued once classes have started, and no student-aid is available, he/she may apply, or remain eligible, for assistance pending receipt of the loan, and as long as all other eligibility requirements are met.

Applicants and participants should provide a copy of their student loan assessment(s) and/or any other documentation in order for staff to determine full or part-time attendance and the amount of assistance to be issued as a top-up or while pending receipt of the student loan. Documentation includes, but is not limited to:

  • OSAP Assessment Summary;
  • OSAP Notice of Assessment/Reassessment; and
  • Official letters/notices from the provincial government, the federal government or an educational institution communicating information about a student loan grant, bursary or award a student has been assessed to receive.

In order for assistance to be issued to an individual awaiting receipt of a student loan, the applicant or participant must sign an Agreement to Reimburse, indicating his/her responsibility to repay the assistance issued once he/she is in receipt of the student loan. An Assignment and Direction form is not to be used in these situations. In determining the amount of repayment, the Administrators can only request reimbursement of assistance issued during the study period.

An applicant or participant must be advised that an overpayment recovery will be administered if he/she does not honour the agreement to reimburse the assistance issued (see Directive 9.3: Recovery of Overpayments for more information).

Receipt of a student loan by a caregiver who receives Temporary Care Assistance (TCA) on behalf of a child does not impact eligibility for TCA (see Directive 3.10 Temporary Care Assistance for more information).

Part-time and full-time attendance at a post-secondary educational or training program can be approved by the Administrator as an employment assistance activity.

Calculating Assistance

Loans, grants, bursaries and awards received under the MTCU Act and CSFA Act for direct educational expenses (i.e., tuition, other compulsory fees, books, instructional supplies, transportation and childcare) are exempt as income and assets so long as the participant remains in attendance in the program of study or training for which the funding is intended.

A complete list of OSAP loans, grants, bursaries and awards is available at:
https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/A-ZListofAid/index.htm

In addition, Administrators may exempt the portion of any other loans, grants bursaries and awards that will be applied within a reasonable period to direct educational expenses as income and assets.

Funds received for personal living costs (personal living allowance) are not exempt as income or assets. Funds provided for child care, transportation and travel are not considered personal living costs. However, any amounts provided for these purposes are not to be duplicated by Ontario Works. Staff need to consider these amounts prior to issuing related benefits and when calculating child care deductions.

For the purposes of social assistance, the personal living allowance is equal to the total funding (loans/grants/bursaries/awards) minus actual educational expenses.

Actual education costs for the purpose of Ontario Works funding entitlement may go beyond what is recorded on the student’s OSAP assessment forms and include the actual amount paid by the client to cover costs related to tuition fees, books and equipment, local travel and child care. Clients should provide verification of actual costs. Note: Non-educational funding identified on the OSAP assessment forms may include total funding minus tuition, compulsory fees, books and equipment, local travel and child care costs.

Total funding entitlement - actual education costs = personal living allowance (chargeable income)

Example:
Grant = $3,500
Loan =  $6,500
Total funding = $10,000
Actual education costs = $5,000

Calculation of Personal Living Allowance for the purpose of Ontario Works:

$10,000 - $5,000 = $5,000 (chargeable income)

Grants for Crown Wards

OSAP provides a number of specific special purpose payments that are not considered in the usual OSAP assessment for education, transportation and living costs. These funds are not intended to reduce the amount of OSAP funding that the student is eligible to receive. These are additional payments from OSAP for these students. These grants include:

  • Living and Learning Grant (LLG)
  • 100% Tuition Aid for Youth Leaving Care Program (the portion of the funds provided by the school)

For the purposes of social assistance, special purpose payments are not included in the calculation of personal living allowance (chargeable income). The personal living allowance would be calculated in the following manner for students who are in receipt of a specific special purpose payment:

Total funding entitlement (excluding special purpose grant) - actual education costs = personal living allowance (chargeable income)

Example:

Grant = $3,500
Loan =  $6,500
Living Learning Grant = $2,000
Total funding = $12,000
Actual education costs = $5,000

Calculation of Personal Living Allowance:
$10,000 ($3,500+$6,500) - $5,000 = $5,000 (chargeable income)

Information Resources for Students

There are a range of financial supports that may be available to help students with the costs of post-secondary education, including correspondence courses, make-up years (i.e., a program of study that must be completed as prerequisite for admission to a graduate program), cooperative programs and private vocational programs.

In addition, individuals who are experiencing difficulty repaying their student loans may be eligible for interest relief programs for OSL and/or CSL.

Ontario Works staff should be familiar with the information resources available to students regarding their post-secondary education and provide referrals where appropriate.

Detailed information about eligibility for loans and other financial supports available through the provincial and federal governments is available at the following websites:
www.osap.gov.on.ca
www.hrsdc.gc.ca
https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

Students Who Quit School or Become Part-Time Students

If a post-secondary student quits school, all retained proceeds from a student loan, grant, bursary or award are considered income and assets, and loan amounts provided for personal living costs are averaged over the intended study period.

If a post-secondary student changes to a part-time study program, any portion of a student loan provided for personal living costs that has been paid to and retained by the student is considered income and assets and averaged over the intended study period. In these situations, staff must also review the part-time study plan. Depending on the time commitment involved, it may be appropriate for the student to participate in additional employment assistance activities.