The Ontario Liberals’ plan to give a 30 per cent discount on tuition may end up costing some students a little bit more.
The Liberals’ election promise, which offered a 30 per cent decrease in the cost of tuition to students from households earning less than $160,000 per year, may be followed by a rise in the overall cost of tuition starting next year.
The current framework that dictates tuition fees expires at the end of the 2011/12 school year.
“Universities can’t really withstand having no new revenue, because they’re going to spend $420 million on this new grant,” said Sam Andrey, Executive Director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
Whether tuition increases at the current rate of five per cent per year is still to be determined.
Andrey said OUSA is advocating for a lower increase rate, but that no increase at all is unlikely.
“We know changing [the tuition increase rate] to something lower is on the table. That’s something we’re going to be advocating for.”
“With the 30 per cent reduction, I think there is a very low appetite on the part of the government to compensate an outright freeze.”
The plan to offer students a tuition discount is set to take place in January, but much of the details of how it will be implemented and distributed is currently pending confirmation.
Residents of Ontario in full-time, first entry programs (excluding law, medicine and graduate programs) will be eligible to apply for a tuition break for the winter semester, but the process of how and where students apply has not yet been determined.
Andrey said for the winter 2012 semester only, approved students will likely receive a cheque equivalent to 30 per cent of tuition, and that a true 30 per cent discount on tuition won’t start until 2012.
“In all likelihood, it will be something like an $800 cheque for most students,” said Alvin Tejdo, OUSA’s Director of Communications, of the 30 per cent discount in January.
Tejdo said many students could potentially be caught unaware of the cheque’s availability. “It’s going to be really important to tell people to apply for it,” he said.
The process by which students’ financial means are approved – determining whether their household earns less than $160,000 – is yet to be established.
The slow implementation of the remaining details is partially due to the change in governing officials. After the Oct. 8 election, Glen Murray became the new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, replacing John Milloy. There are also new education critics to be appointed in the opposition.
Andrey said other changes coming to Ontario campuses in the coming year include increasing the availability of mental health and the construction of three new campuses in the Greater Toronto Area, with the site still to be determined.