The pros and cons of free tuition
Ontario’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, introduced the Ontario budget in April 2016, and with it he made a big announcement. He declared that tuition will be free for all Ontario students who have a household income of $50,000 or less. This announcement took everyone by surprise, making thousands of students feel incredibly excited and less burdened by their student loans.
Let’s face it, being a student is not easy. Studying for never-ending tests and writing countless essays in the same week are not the only stressors we all have in common. A large part of our stress are the student loans we take, which must be paid off when we graduate. With free tuition, we, as students, can get our education with less anxiety. Additionally, thousands of talented students who were not financially privileged enough to attend school will now be able to.
When this policy was made public, it was very controversial. There were several arguments both for and against the policy. The primary argument in favour of the policy was that more students would now be able to go to school. People with financial constraints would be able to attain the knowledge necessary to pursue their desired careers. This policy would also produce more qualified young graduates, who could better contribute to the economy. “We have a lot to celebrate today with this commitment to fairness, equity, and justice for students,” said Gabrielle Ross-Marquette of the Canadian Federation of Students, on the day this policy was made public. Zachary Rose, of the Ontario Undergraduate Students’ Alliance, said students will now get their grant money all at once, and before their tuition bill is due. The new system will “be much more transparent, much easier to understand and much more generous, particularly for students who need it the most.”
The arguments against the policy mainly pointed out the fact that it’s could be seen as unfair that some students have the privilege to attend college or university for free, whereas others are still paying for their tuition. Many students put forth the argument that their parents certainly earn more than the cutoff point, but still cannotafford to pay for their schooling. So these students are forced to raise their own funds through part-time jobs, in addition to attending school. Another argument which has been brought forward questions if this tuition is really “free.”Ontario statistics state that the average amount of money a student spends on tuition annually is around $6,000. This is the average amount of money that the government is willing to pay for these students. In reality, an average of $7,500 dollars goes towards our tuition every year.
We, as students, have a lot of questions arising in our minds about this. Let’s consider a few to get a better understanding of this policy.
Personally, in the interest of fairness, I believe that if Ontario is taking such a big step, they should be taking it for all students. Education is a right for all who want to be educated, and there should be nothing stopping any student from achieving their highest goals.
Who can apply?
All students who were eligible for OSAP will be able to apply, as well as all families with an annual income of $50,000 or lower.
How does it work exactly?
When a student gets accepted into a university, they will be asked to provide a net bill of all the expenses that will come with their schooling. The Ontario government will then provide the student with an average cost of tuition, plus a little extra money. However, this policy is still in the early stages of development. You can expect changes for sure.
Graduating this year?
Well, you’re out of luck.
In the middle of graduating?
You may be looking at no loans at all by the time you graduate.