Ministry Enforced Changes to Post Secondary Education

 What changes?

On January 17, 2019, the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) government launched a reckless plan for post-secondary education in the province, leaving students in Ontario worse off. This announcement included:

  • A guaranteed 4 per cent cut in institutional funding;

  • A reduction in non-repayable grants and an increase in student loans;

  • The elimination of the 6-month grace period for loan repayment.

Additionally, it included a proposal the government is calling the “Student Choice Initiative” which would break compulsory fees into “essential” and “non-essential” fees and allow students to opt-out of non-essential costs.

What is the Student Choice Initiative?

According to the Ontarion, The Student Choice Initiative “will delineate between “essential” and “non-essential” services. Essential services will have secured funding through certain student fees that are mandatory whereas non-essential services will give students the option to opt-out of those fees. This includes fees that were decided through the democratic process of asking and passing referendum questions to undergraduate students.”

The Ontarion - Ford changes campus culture

What is happening with OSAP?

  • Elimination of interest-free grace period

  • Elimination of free tuition and an increase in the share of funds and grants allocated to low-income students

  • Elimination of the non-needs based portion of the Ontario Student Grant and reduction of family income thresholds

  • Change of the definition of 'independent student’ - An independent student will be defined as a student who has been out of school for six years, rather than four years.

  • Change of loan to grant ratio of funding for second-entry programs - At least half of the funding that students pursuing second-entry programs will receive, such as graduate programs or law school, will be made up of loans.

  • Provide some provincial loan funding to low-income students and increase the per-term loan cap

  • Changes to student and parental contributions

For more information check out this article from the Western Gazette:  What exactly do the OSAP changes mean?

What is an independent student?

When applying for OSAP, an independent student uses their own income to determine which grants and loans they are eligible for.
On the other side of the coin, dependent students are students whose grants are based on their parent's income. 
An article on says "Since high school graduates pursuing post-secondary education typically earn less money than their parents, reporting one's own income as an independent student will most likely result in a higher OSAP grant amount. [...] Now that students will need to be out of high school for longer before they qualify as independent students, fewer students will be eligible to apply for OSAP using their own income levels." [1]
The Western Gazette says "This change would mean that parents’ income would be taken into consideration in OSAP calculations for six years after high school graduation. For example, a student pursuing a Master's degree immediately after their undergraduate studies would be expected to receive financial support from their parents." [2]

How will this affect student groups?

On campus, student groups who collect student fees will be at risk of losing funding based on the whims of our peers. This includes all the groups listed below (for now, at this point, details are still subject to change) 

What about my club?

Yes, yours too. Even if you don’t directly collect fees, all groups on campus are accredited through the same Student Organizational Policy. if your club falls under a College Government, their funding will become optional. If you are a CSA club, the CSA fee contributes to the clubs program and allows us to maintain our insurance, your Gryphlife pages, and our status as an accrediting student body. 

Wait… All fees are optional now?

No, most are still mandatory. Of the fees on the line, the only fees that will truly be on the line are those that fund student groups or equity-based programs. Athletics and recreation, Career services, Student buildings, Health and counselling, Academic support, Student ID cards, Student achievement and records, Financial aid offices, Transit passes, Health and Dental insurance, and Campus safety programs fall into the “mandatory” categories. While not all of our fees go towards these topics, most of the ancillary fees we pay on campus will remain in place.

The cuts threaten those fees that provide for campus culture.  The Ontarion points out that of the $527.35 that all University of Guelph Undergrads pay, only $109.73 will be optional. In an affront to campus culture, and not basic services. 

Well, $109.73 is a lot of money.

While this is true, the comparable difference between what is funded from the soon-to-be-optional fees and what is funded by the continued compulsory fees is dramatic.

Img Credit: The Ontarion

Why do I still have to pay for the transit pass?

If an institution has a compulsory ancillary fee to support student transit passes that were established prior to January 17, 2019, compulsory ancillary fees may be charged for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewals of these agreements. Renewals are understood to be subsequent contracts between the same parties creating uninterrupted service to students.

No compulsory ancillary fee may be charged to support a student transit pass that did not have a fully executed agreement in place by January 17, 2019 (with the exception of agreements considered renewals as noted above).[3]

Who decides which fees are mandatory?

The University has put together a steering committee to review the provincial Guidelines and direct our ancillary fees as appropriately as possible. There will be more information about which fees will be mandatory or not over the course of the summer, so it's possible that the $109.73 price tag estimated by the Ontarion could shift up or down. 

Undergraduate Student Tuition Fees Winter 2019 Cohort 2018 Guelph Campus

Image: for a full explanation of current ancillary fees, stay tuned throughout the summer. 

Where can I go for more information?

For information about the Student Choice Initiative, Campus Radio, Campus Free Press, repercussions, or OSAP cuts, you can find more information here:

CFS Ontario Link:

What Exactly Do The OSAP Changes Mean? - The Gazette

What the Future of the CSA Could Mean for The Bullring - The Ontarion

CFS and CSA protest Student Choice Initiative and advocate for greater accessibility in education - The Ontarion

We Are Not Going Anywhere. - The Eyeopener

Student Choice Initiative Leaves CFRU Scrambling for Survival - The Ontarion

U-Pass Program Terminated - Sheridan Student Union

WTF is the Student Choice Initiative Anyway? - The Eyeopener

#How We Listen - Vish Khanna (CFRU) – BYTA

Carleton Student Association Lays Off Staff Ahead of Possible Cuts – CBC

Does Doug Ford Want to Kill Student Newspapers? - The Ontarion

The Future of TAPS After the Student Choice Initiative - The Queen's Journal

Ontario Government’s Student Choice Initiative Apparently Suggested by Free Speech Club - The Varsity

Ford’s False Choice For Students: How the ‘Student Choice Initiative’ Really Works - The Leveller

OPIRG-Carleton Releases Report on Opt-Out Option - The Charlatan

Ford’s Many Tentacles: Degrading OSAP and Undermining Student Organizations Through Student “choice” and Tuition Bribes - The Leveller

Ford Changes Campus Culture - The Ontarion


And for fun:

Federal Government to Start Using Crowd Sourcing to Create Legislature - The Modern Spirit

Student Choice Initiative Adds More Opt-out Options to List - The Contrarion

Doug Ford Still Wants to be Mayor of Toronto Despite Being Premier – The Modern Spirit


Additional Citation:

Ontario, Minister of Education, and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. “Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines: Publicly-Assisted Universities.” Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines: Publicly-Assisted Universities, Government of Ontario, 2019.

PDF located at bottom of the page under "File Attachments"

[1] Yang, Alfred. “OSAP 2019 for Independent Students.”, 13 Feb. 2019.

[2] Mallees, Nojoud Al. “What Exactly Do the OSAP Changes Mean?” The Gazette, 16 Feb. 2019.

[3] Ontario, Minister of Education, and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. “Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines: Publicly-Assisted Universities.” Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines: Publicly-Assisted Universities, Government of Ontario, 2019.

File attachments

Last Updated:
Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 11:11 AM