Huzaifa Saeed, VP (Education) of the McMaster Students Union, speaks at the University Club after McMaster president Patrick Deane and Ontario minister Glen Murray.

As many students have already experienced this year, OSAP is no longer primarily a paper process and there will be no more lineups to receive financial aid.

Glen Murray, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, stopped in Hamilton this morning to give a statement about the streamlining of OSAP.

OSAP Express is the new application process, and it affects more than 300,000 applicants and recipients in Ontario. Approximately 15,000 post-secondary students in Hamilton are expected to benefit.

The program requires students to sign a loan agreement once in their post-secondary career rather than each academic year. Its aim is to speed up confirmation of enrolment and direct deposit processes, and to eliminate lineups at the financial aid office.

“This came as a result of student associations advocating for change in the system, and we’ve delivered,” said Murray.

He said the new program would make receiving student aid easier while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for institutions that choose to implement it.

“Moving forward, there is going to be a qualitative way in which we spend,” said Murray.

Huzaifa Saeed, Vice President (Education) of the McMaster Students Union, said at the announcement that OSAP Express is a much-needed step toward a more accessible post secondary system.

“The cost of education is a big issue, but a large part of the issue has to do with reception [of financial assistance].”

Pointing to a 2009 federal survey on financial literacy, Saeed said many students are in the dark about financial options and have not taken full advantage of all available student assistance.

Murray’s announcement comes on the heels of the 30 per cent off tuition grant introduced last January by the provincial government.

The grant, promised by the Liberals in the 2011 provincial election, aims to make education more affordable by delivering assistance with less hassle.

The program offers refunds of $1,680 to students in college and university programs and $770 to students for those in college diploma and certificate programs.

“So often, students are eligible for something and they don’t know. As a result they end up not accessing that resource,” said Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

“Streamlining the process will put it all together for students to get that information.”

Since the tuition grant came out, 200,000 refunds have been received, which means approximately 100,000 refunds have yet to be claimed.

The grant is available to full-time students at a public college or university in Ontario whose parents have a gross income of $160,000 or less. Students must be residents of Ontario and must have graduated high school within four years before applying directly to a postsecondary program.

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