Expectationsto Live below the Poverty Line
Studentsliving at home are provided with $34.72 to finance food, transittransport, shelter and miscellaneous uses. The OntarioStudent Assistance Program[OSAP]sets the $34.72 threshold across students from all over the provincewith very minimal financial allowances. Over the entire year, aboveamount may add up to $ 12,540, this figure is $3000 less the LowIncome Cut-Off [LICO] for a city or a town with 100,000 – 500,000such as London, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo and St. Catherine’s.This analysis supports that OSAP operates at a very low LICOexpectation which is incidentally set up by the government. The LICOunder which the OntarioStudent Assistance Programoperates is highly considered a proxy for the poverty line (OUSA,2010). In cities with above 50,000 individuals like Ottawa andToronto, the situation is worse such that scholars survive with $5000below the Low Income Cut-Off.
Thisessay supports that OSAP is damaging the living standards ofstudents, and above is a major problem that should be addressed byinstitutional leaders and other authorities. Living allowances shouldbe increased substantially to ensure students meet the rising cost ofliving. Most importantly is that students are able to meet daily,weekly and periodic expenses such as miscellaneous use.
Challengesin Books, Tuition and Other Supplies
Therising cost of tuition and books puts the academic lives of studentsat risk. Every year, colleges and universities across Canada mustreport to the government the cost of books, tuition and othersupplies (University of Toronto, 2010). OSAP has applied approachesthat seek to cap the government’s financial aid a student can getinstead of using such assessments to meet the financial needs ofscholars. Students based in sciences and art programs are usuallygiven $6000 for a two-term academic year. This is so despite the factthat some textbooks can go well above $1000 in some programs such asmathematics, engineering, architecture, psychology and medicine.Students in professional and graduate programs are given $4700 by theProvince an amount expected to cover textbooks, stationery andrelated supplies. Indeed, the federal government allocates such anamount despite the fact that the cost of tuition and textbook mayrise accordingly depending on separate academic needs.
Thisanalysis supports that not all students can cap into the amountallocated by the federal government. As such, it is prudent that theState adjusts the amount to meet the academic expenses in everyinstitution. Given the location, social status, and academic needs ofevery institution in Canada, it is mature supposition that theOntarioStudent Assistance Program shouldadjust the financial allowances to supplement the rising cost oftuition and books. Above would be a viable and lasting solution tothe current needs of students and institutions alike.
ConstantAllowances over the Last four Years
Giventhe rising cost of living and the changing economic times, it isimportant that student loan programs consider the financialallowances given to scholars to meet academic and social needs. Formany years, OSAP has given students $110 per week and above budgetremains constant even with critical transitions (University ofToronto, 2010). Bob Rae had a vision for an increase in weekly grantsto $140 in his 2005 report titled Ontario:a Leader in Learning.A second phase of above increment was suggested to $175 per weekalthough this change is yet to be implemented five years after it wasannounced (OUSA, 2010). High-need students continue to suffer becauseincreases in the OSAP maximum are yet to meet individual needs. Whatis more is that even after recommendations are given, high-needstudents continue to succumb to the rising cost of living. Indeed,the constant rate has not proven worthwhile to the rising academicand social needs that need to be taken care of in a periodic basis.
Aclassic solution to the problem will be to increase the amount to theone suggested by Bob Rae which is $ 175 per month. This analysissupports Federal Government re-examination of the issue and acritical re-adjustment to the OSAP maximum. The State should considerthe varying needs of students and ensure the budgetary incrementsbeing made address discrete needs. It is therefore within theinterest of this analysis to support more financial consideration andto back up strategic financial plans as suggested by Rae.
The$2710 Summer Earnings across all Students
Studentsare expected to save a minimum of $2710 for a four months pre-studyperiod. The summer earnings are meant to take care of selectedrequirements including social and academic [tuition, books andstationery]. 2009 was the worst period as it saw the highestunemployment levels among students ever since 1977 (OUSA, 2010). TheAugust of 2009 recorded a 16.4% rate of unemployment amid students.Despite the low employment levels, OSAP required students to reportwith a minimum of $2710 and this contribution was anticipatedregardless of what students earned over the summer period (OUSA,2010). In a summer that financially incapacitated students, the OSAPprogram still required students to report with the minimum thresholdand the program did not offer further government aid regardless ofemployment status.
Itis within the interest of this analysis to note that OSAP has a roleto play in connecting students to lucrative placements over thesummer. Most importantly is to take care of students needs especiallythose who fail to secure jobs in promising organisations andworkplaces. Although reluctant to offer government aid, OSAP shouldliaise with potential agencies and platforms to ensure that scholarsare not limited financially and that they undertake differentprograms with ease.
AlternativeProposals and Conclusion
Mosteconomies are crumbling with the rising cost of goods, changingeconomic times and variations in financial scales (Stewart, 2009).Above situation affects households, government, and consumers acrossthe board. It is important however to note that the most prosperousnations have invested immensely in higher learning through bettereducation, quality teaching and improved instructional practices(Mitchell, 2006). The government should relax expenditure in otherareas of the economy including recreation and sports to supplementeducation through student loans and grants. Given the value ofeducation to a nation and the increasing demand for human resourcesin most economies, it makes sense to critically adjust the livingallowances by students. Most scholars are living below the povertyline and this condition is partly attributed to the OntarioStudent Assistance Programinability to provide to changing needs. The program fails to engagethe State in the financial welfare of students including increasedallowances and more flexible weekly and monthly grants. A lastingsolution, therefore, is to re-examine expenditures by the State toensure they meet varying higher learning needs.
Canada.(2011). Canadastudent loans and grants – trade school, college & university:Guide to federal student financial assistance.
Mitchell,N. (2006). Survivingyour student loans.Place of publication not identified: Booklocker.com, Inc.
OntarioUndergraduate Student Allowance. (2010). OSALConcerns and Issues.The OUSA Official Website. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ousa.ca/2010/03/04/osap-concerns-issues/
Stewart,C. (2009). Bankruptyour student loans and other discharge strategies: You can do it!Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
Universityof Toronto. (2010).the University of Toronto Official Website.Retrieved fromhttps://www.utm.utoronto.ca/registrar/sites/files/registrar/public/shared/pdfs/OSAPStepbystep.pdf.