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Ontario's Tories eliminate free tuition for low-income students

The Tories say the Ontario Student Assistance Plan grants had become unsustainable and it was time to refocus it to provide help to students in the most financial need
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Ontario's Progressive Conservative government is eliminating free tuition for students from low-income families while also cutting tuition fees.

The Tories say the Ontario Student Assistance Plan grants had become unsustainable and it was time to refocus it to provide help to students in the most financial need.

The previous Liberal government increased the number of grants and made it possible for low-income students to attend college or university free of cost.

But the auditor general found last month that costs for that program jumped by 25 per cent and warned it could grow to $2 billion annually by 2020-21.

Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Merrilee Fullerton announced today that family income thresholds for the grant would be lowered and instead provide more loans.

She says most of the of grants will go to students whose families have an income of less than $50,000, but didn't say what the cut off would be for a grant.

The current tuition fee framework, which has capped increases for most programs at three per cent, expires at the end of this academic year.

Under a new framework, tuition would decrease by 10 per cent for the 2019-2020 year, then be frozen for the following year.

Core operating grants from the government to post-secondary institutions are contingent on their compliance with the tuition cut.

The chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario said it will hurt low-income students the most.

"Because if you're not able to access as much grants as you were previously ... that means that you're going to be pulling out loans," Nour Alideeb told Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS.

"Students are still 20 years later paying off their student debt and it makes it difficult ... for us to buy homes, for us to contribute to society. You need to find good paying jobs to be able to balance all those responsibilities. I don't think loans are a viable option, to me they're not a sustainable model and I think there are other solutions." she added.

with files from Blair Adams




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