Confused by OSAP? Confounded by financial planning? We heard you. Here are some of your most pressing money-matter dilemmas, and what Donna Wall, Director of Financial Aid and Awards at Enrolment Services, had to say about them.

the newspaper: Should a student take out OSAP loans even if their tuition and/or rent is already financially covered?

Donna Wall:  OSAP considers a student’s education costs (e.g., tuition and books, living costs, transportation) and a student’s resources (e.g., income from summer and study period earnings, parental income, assets) to determine financial need. The OSAP application process is very thorough, so it’s unlikely that a student will receive funding they don’t need.  It’s important to keep in mind that a portion of OSAP funding is loan and that loan must be repaid. Students who take out a student loan when it’s not really needed are incurring debt unnecessarily.

tn: How should you spend or where should you put your OSAP money if you have any left over after paying tuition and rent?

DW: Students with unused OSAP would be wise to put it in the bank. Students can run out of money, especially toward the end of the year, if they have budgeted incorrectly. Having a little OSAP to rely on when things get unexpectedly tight would be help reduce financial stress.

 tn: How does a student budget, and what does it mean to do so? 

DW: Budgeting can be as simple as writing down all the things you expect you’ll have to spend money on (e.g., your costs), assigning an amount you can afford to cover your costs, and then keeping track of where you spend your money. Staff at Enrolment Services, at the Financial Aid offices at UTM and UTSC, as well as staff in the registrarial offices at the colleges and faculties can provide students with budget advice or can direct students to other sources of information. Information on budgeting, including access to budget templates and planning tools also can be found by searching “Financial Consumer Agency of Canada” online.

tn: There is a rumour going around that thousands of dollars of scholarship money goes unclaimed every year, yet most students don't directly qualify for many of the scholarships available. Is it true that students should apply to these scholarships regardless, even if they don't fulfil all the requirements?

 DW: Students should apply for all the scholarships for which they may be eligible. There are many scholarships available, so students need to be proactive and do their homework. Information on scholarships is available through the Enrolment Services website ( and through each college or faculty website. In addition, students should check out scholarships that may be available through external sources such as AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges Canada) and the Grants Register (for graduate study) which is available at most libraries in the periodical section.

tn: How much money are you permitted to earn during the school year and summer while taking OSAP?

DW: During the summer, there is a minimum amount a student is expected to contribute from their summer earnings toward their education costs. For example, single students are expected to contribute the greater of: about $3,115 (assuming there is 16 weeks in the summer) or 80% of their discretionary income from the summer. For OSAP purposes, discretionary income is gross income less standard tax deductions (e.g., CPP, EI) less a standard living allowance.  During studies, students can earn up to $113/week before it affects their OSAP funding.

For all other financial inquiries, Donna suggests contacting Enrolment Services or booking a personal appointment with a financial advisor where you bank.

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