News / Ottawa

New rules meant to make student grants more predictable

Income cut-offs will now be more gradual.

Income cut-offs for student grant will now be gentler and phased in.

Torstar file

Income cut-offs for student grant will now be gentler and phased in.

Canadian students heading to universities and colleges this fall can expect a more nuanced grant system that won’t come with harsh income cut-offs.

The government posted new rules last week, after working with the provinces since changes were first announced in the 2016 budget.

Instead of eliminating grants when someone hits an income threshold the grants will now be phased out. Someone from a four-person family with an income of $45,986 per year was receiving $3,000 under the old grant system, but if that family income rose even $1 that grant would drop to $1,200 a year.

Michael McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said the change is a really important one for students.

“It’s a far better system. This will mean more dollars and more dollars that do not need to be repaid.”

He said the abrupt cut offs caught many students off guard in the past.

“There are cliffs in the system, so if your family made one more dollar you might end up in the middle income or you might end up out of the program.”

The changes also allow for grants to go up with inflation over time and are expected to cost the government an additional $1.3 billion over the next ten years.

McDonald said there are other changes the government could make to student grant funding, but this one is a big step to making tuition more affordable.

“This is one of the things that makes it easier for Ontario to provide free tuition to low-income students.”

He said he hopes to see more grant programs like this, because thye make it much easier for students to go to school without a heavy debt burden.

“We think that grants have been proven, especially for the students who need them, to get students in the door to post-secondary.”

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