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The OSAP diet forces students to give up Starbucks tea

As part of a protest against the province’s student aid program, five Ontario undergraduate students are entering the annals of martyrdom by budgeting just $7.50 a day for food—apparently this is what the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) allows them. The students will be stringently frugal for three weeks in the name of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s Food for Thought campaign, intended to highlight the fact that OSAP doesn’t provide enough income for students. “OSAP assumes students should live below the poverty line, and that’s not good,” one student told the Star.

The soon-to-be-starving students are pledging to give up their Starbucks and Subway, with one student—gasp—deciding to crack open a cookbook: “I guess I’ll start trying out recipes.” Despite such preparations, and since success on the budgeting front would spell disaster for the campaign, we’re left wondering if it makes sense for students with an agenda to participate in such an undertaking.

$7.50 a day is all you get on the student OSAP diet [Toronto Star]

  • a.g.

    I think the tone here is inappropriate. Yes, for a rich student used to eating out, giving up Starbucks is a bit snicker-worthy. But the point is that MANY students can’t dream of such luxuries, rely on foodbanks etc – because of the 7.50 a day OSAP allowance.

    You think it’s so funny, you do it. And not just for a week – for years. It pretty quickly gets trying.

  • JK

    $7.50 isn’t enough for one day. Especially not for students who are in residence on a meal plan. For $7.50 a day you can get fries and a burger. Good luck stretching that over three meals.

  • JNG

    Wake up and smell the coffee, living below the poverty line is a reality for many people including myself. I cook my own meals and only drink take out coffee if I have the spare change.

  • roncesvaller

    Part of the problem is that students – who usually don’t have much cooking experience – live on very tight budgets without knowing how to cook. Even I tried really hard to cook in university, and ended up producing some really spectacular failures (i think using curry spices as “flavouring” rather than understanding that you have to fry them was the worst).

    A good solution are community cooking classes, food share setups (where one person cooks multiple portions of a meal and then exchanges those with other people), etc. The kinds of things that help teach students how to cook and stretch their budgets. And 7.50 a day is 52.50 a week which while low, was not too far below my food budget in those days.

  • MC

    Sounds like a bunch of spoiled lazy brats looking for hand outs. What ever happened to a part time job? Working summers to save some money? You want the government to spoon feed you all through life? This is the real world, get used to work, it’s what you have to do to survive. The government gives out the proper amount, what we as Canadians can afford and remember how much of that they never see back because of irresponsible borrowers!

  • Jenne

    When did the definition of OSAP become “student welfare program”? When I was in university and post-grad (not that long ago), you went out and got a part-time job in addition to OSAP if ends didn’t meet.

    Wow, talk about the increasingly annoying sense of entitlement from the coming generation.

  • MA

    @MC Most full-time students don’t have enough time for a part-time job. In between balancing all the classes, homework, sleep, and volunteering a minimum-wage part-time job doesn’t fit in. It is very difficult to be in school and worry about money at the same time. And students eat a lot! We need the energy. Even if you cook at home, a $7.50 a day diet, would not allow for healthy, nutricious food other than bananas.

  • Kay

    I recently graduated from university. I originally didn’t qualify for OSAP because my parents made too much money. The big problem there was that my parents did not fund my education which is what the government assumed. I worked in the summers earning enough money for my tuition and rent for the year. During the school year I worked a part time job to make money for daily living including food. I did it, it’s possible. These students sound spoiled. Even as working adult I still don’t purchase Starbucks tea. First of all because there are tons of better fair trade teas out there from local shops and Starbucks doesn’t have recyclable or biodegradable cups. But also because I CAN’T AFFORD IT! I don’t understand why these students think Starbucks and eating Subway is a necessity. Referring to the Toronto Star article, I also had class during the day and work in the evening. I never even though about picking up something to eat for dinner. I would pack a lunch AND a dinner. Aren’t students supposed to be smart? Shouldn’t they figure it out?

  • RAG

    To those five undergrad students, be thankful that you even got OSAP at all! I saved a good portion of my college tuition from the age of 14. I lasted the first year and a half debt free. It was only in third year that I was finally eligible for OSAP, but barely got enough to cover tuition. So, I still had to work part-time on campus between classes. The rest of the money I needed to stay in school came from loans which took me years to pay off.

    I was absolutely shocked my first few weekends at college watching the local pubs fill up with students blowing their OSAP on beer and wings in the name of “social networking” with classmates. These same students were crying the blues come end of semester as their tummies gurgled from lack of food while still holding Second Cup in their hand to keep awake.

    Why not TEACH students about money and cooking while they are still in high school? Remember Home Economics? I do, but only from Gr. 7 & 8! As an advanced student it was never mentioned to me as a “necessity” course from my guidance teacher. It was more important to fill my head with numbers and words by attending the Math, Science and English classes. I envied friends of mine who were “general” students as they chatted about what real life skills they learned from their “suggested” courses such as Parenting. There’s a real stigma for “advance” students to take “general” courses. Shameful.

    Thank goodness I had caring parents who taught me the value of a dollar by sending me out to work part-time at a young age and the wonders of preparing leftovers from the fridge! Oh, and by the way, my credit rating has never suffered because I kept my credit card in my wallet unless the purchase was truly important.

  • Zak

    Seriously, people need to calm their nerves. OSAP was never meant to be the GOLDEN TICKET. It was meant to help out. It’s not a free hand-out either, it’s a loan. If you want to further your education, it’s nobody else’s responsibility but your own. More OSAP money will just make life harder for you in the long-run anyways. Paying $400/month for the next 13 years on OSAP payments is high ENOUGH.

    Step up, get a job, save some money, tighten the belt, and just DO IT. And complaining that you can’t afford food on OSAP is just nonsense. Forget Starbucks and Subway… even moderately wealthy people shouldn’t be eating $13 meals and drinking $5 coffees every day, that’s just irresponsible. Let’s look at the meal plan. Just because you’re a student, doesn’t mean you HAVE to eat at the school’s cafeteria. It’s there to make money, not to help you study or save anything. It’s often more expensive than most restaurants just outside the school. Mealplans are for upper-class or rich students who have the luxury of being too lazy to find alternative methods.

    When I was in school, I survived off of OSAP and I lived within my means. Not only did I fill my stomach every day, but I did with GOOD FOOD and I even had money left over for some leisure. Learn to cook, and if you’re reasonable with your groceries, it will work out. If you need more money, get a job.

  • Lina

    Am I missing something? $7.50/day x 30 days = $225/month for food. As a working adult, I spend $160/month on groceries.

    I make the majority of my meals from this (I’m vegetarian and consume very few processed or pre-packaged foods, both because they’re less healthy and because they’re considerably more expensive).

    I do eat out sometimes, to socialise or to treat myself. I can afford to. As a student, I did not. I put my coffee in a travel mug and had potlucks with friends. Actually, I still do this.

    I don’t understand why a person can’t eat well on this amount. Ditch the overpriced takeout and you’ll be fine. Healthier too.

  • Chantal

    Part of the point here is that OSAP has not moved with the times and cost of living. With 16% unemployment in the student / part time sector, it’s imaginable that someone would be unable to fund their education.

  • Chantal

    By the way, how does one cook, living in residence? I never lived in residence so I don’t understand these things?

  • Melanie

    Are you kidding? You can easily live off of $50 a week. Last time I checked, whole loaves of bread cost less than $3 and you can still get various condiments for less than $10. Bananas are cheap too and water is free. That covers lunches. Dinner can include pasta, rice, and whatever cheaper veggies and meat you can find at the grocery store because they’re going to expire the next day. All quite healthy, cheap, and simple to make.

    Although I’m pretty sure a lot of students spend that amount in one night of drinking.

  • griffin carpenter

    Wait, who are the martyrs here? All I’m reading is a bunch of folks reminising on how when they went to school they had to walk up hills both ways. The plain and simple fact is that OSAP is a broken loan (not a hand out). Looking just at the food allowance 7.50 is much too small of an amount as the number isn’t set to inflation or CPI, and the posters here seem to be disregarding the costs of transportation and kitchenware. If you’re not a student I could see how you might overlook such costs. But seriously, let the kids eat.

  • student

    OK, I’m a university student right now and I still think $7.50 a day is perfectly adequate. If you can cook in your residence, $52.50 a week for one person is generous. That’s milk ($4) and a box of cereal ($4) for breakfast, deli meat ($8), cheese ($5) and bread ($3) for sandwiches plus a fruit or vegetable for lunch, whatever meat or protein is on sale, with rice or pasta and vegetables for dinner. $35-40 so far. Still enough money leftover to splurge on a particular ingredient, buy dessert, or go out for coffee and/or takeout ONCE OR TWICE a week. I hardly ever spent $50 on groceries in one week.

    I do sympathize with students who can’t cook because their dorms don’t have kitchens. They have to get a meal plan, and the meal plans are exhorbitant and non-refundable. And it’s true that OSAP will penalize you for making more than $50 a week, which is easy to do with a part-time job.

    Even so, as people are hinting, this appears to be more a mental block than a real one. If you get used to cooking on a budget it becomes second-nature. If you insist that you require starbucks and subway every day just to function, then yeah, OSAP money is not going to last very long.

  • John L

    OSAP is meant to assist students, not pay the entire cost of their lives for the years they choose to attend school. There’s absolutely nothing to prevent those who can’t live on $7.50/day for food to add to it out of their own funds.

    On the issue of full-time students not having the time to hold down a part-time job that’d be news to the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve actually done that very thing.

    Keep in mind that the claim that school is too expensive/OSAP is too low/too much debt, etc. has been tossed around for decades (and probably will keep getting tossed out long into the future).

  • Matthew Osborn

    $7.50 a day for food is extravagant. You can eat very well, with good nutrition for less than $4 a day.

  • JB

    Well if you total that up over a month its $225.00 which is more than enough for one student. I’m a university student and I spend $35 dollars a week on groceries, and I eat very healthy and make my own lunches. And I’m not even on OSAP.

    Most students are, well to put it bluntly, lazy. I know too many people on OSAP who simply waste their money. They are surviving off it and just don’t have good money management skills. Like one friend spends 8 dollars a day on one meal he gets from a fast food place everyday. Students these days think they can live beyond their means.

  • LO

    I’m a recent graduate and even with a full-time job I don’t spend $7.50/day on food.
    It doesn’t sound like these kids need more money from OSAP, they need to take a course on budgeting.
    More money may help your present situation, but if you think you have problems eating now, just wait until you’ve graduated, can’t find a job and are having to pay back $500/month in OSAP loans. Been there. It’s not fun.
    Be thankful for the money you have as a student, learn to live on a budget and you’ll be better off in the long run.

  • Diane

    I feed my family some days on $10 a day. And we eat healthily.
    Canned sardines when on sale go for 30cents to 50cents. Add some sauted onions to this, eat with rice and salad or make a a sandwich. Hello! Starbucks!!? That is luxury. YES, a student CAN eat on $7.50 a day. PLAIN WATER is best anyway. No need for soda pop nor designer coffee or tea!! humbug! OSAP, good that you are not being a sucker for some spoiled kids.

  • Diane

    @JK french fries and burger does not a (healthy) meal make.
    The irony is that wholesome foods costs both less money and wear n tear on our bodies. Fast food is not real food anyway, rather as Michael Pollan describes in his book; it is edible food-like substance. Retail MARKUP PLUS SALES TAXES. @JK, no brainer, shop & cook. If you do not know how, LEARN. Too lazy to cook or wash up perhaps?

  • jt

    I thought the idea of OSAP was to help fund TUITION FEES not pay for meals. While I do agree that the costs of post secondary education keep on rising, no one should be shocked by this. By high school, if parents cannot afford to fund or partially fund university education, then the student needs to attempt to get a job. No one is above making minimum wage at McDonald’s in order to stay out of debt.

    When I graduated (debt free) from university, I didn’t start buying my lunch even though I could afford it. I had my eyes set on other more important things like buying a car and a house in the GTA. I am going to be mortgage free in a couple of years and it’s due to good money management and being responsible about spending.

  • The_Flash

    Reality check…get a job if you want to indulge in Starbucks coffee and Subway sandwiches….what’s with the sense of entitlement from these teenagers?? They should be happy that they are able to attend university/college at all. Instead they are complaining about $4 coffee’s and $10 subs…tisk tisk…take a look around the world and then re-evaluate. I hope their university education smartens them up.

  • JacquelineN

    This is ridiculous! $7.50 a DAY for food is $225 dollars a MONTH or $56.25 a WEEK. That’s perfectly reasonable. If they bought groceries they’d be fine. I have a full-time job and I don’t even spend that much on food for myself each month. Wake up and smell the Starbucks, kids.

  • Radhika

    @MA Get over yourself. I’m in one of the most competitive criminology programs in the country so I get several hours of reading on top of the 20 hours of class a week. I have a 1.5 hour commute each way to university every day. I have a part-time job. I pack my own lunches every day. You are a spoiled brat, much like the other fake ass hipster kids who need Starbucks to make their lives meaningful.

  • Cindy

    For all of you who scoff at the thought of a student having no time hold a part-time job to supplement their income, have you ever considered that some students are in more demanding programs than you?

    I don’t mean to be offensive here, but humanities, social sciences and business programs have far less class hours and workload than engineering. I’ve seen friends in humanities with about 10 hours of classes a week.

    As an engineering student, I have over 30 hours of classes a week, complete with 3 labs that require extensive pre-lab and post-lab reports. I also have countless assignments, and spend time in a professor’s research lab to complete my undergraduate thesis. On top of this, I aim for mostly A’s in my courses to qualify for a competitive masters program that I have my sight on.

    Let me tell you, I have always been extremely organized and manage my time very well. And yet, I REALLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME. Before you take up this “holier than thou” attitude, I would like to see if all of you can handle my program with a part-time job on the side and still manage the A’s that I need for grad school. It’s easy for you to judge when you’re not in someone else’s shoes.

  • Cindy

    And @ Radhika, I’m sorry but it’s extremely judgemental for you to call MA a “spoiled brat”. I agree that $7.50 a day is more than enough to live on if you budget your money properly – That is not what I’m debating here since I commute 1 hour each way from home as well and earned enough money over the summer for my living expenses.

    What I don’t agree with is people like you who ASSUME that if you can handle a part-time job, so can other people. There are always people who are in tougher programs and/or Universities than you. I really don’t think you will be able to pull it off in my program (engineering at Waterloo is extremely tough). I would love to have a part-time job like you and make a little extra spending money, but I can’t. In fact, noone in my program works. Yes, it’s that demanding! Maybe I also failed to mention that we have to take 6 courses while the maximum full courseload is set at 5 coursee.

    Wow seriously, you have 20 hours of class and a few hours of reading?! WOW, no way!!!how do you even MANAGE? Do you realize it sounds like a bird program to some of us? I just really wanted to get that point across to you.

  • The_Flash

    Better get a well paying summer job Cindy!

  • nimity

    GET A JOB!

  • YoullLive

    To those students who say their course load/lab load is too heavy and they can’t possibly get a part-time job, did they consider taking a year off to work and earn money before going to university? Deferring is an option, not just complaining.

  • Iremember

    To all the “back in my day” comments:

    Max OSAP funding in the mid-90s was about $9000, and undergraduate tuition was around $3500-4000. With a part-time job, there was more than enough for food, fun, and rent.

    Currently, max OSAP = $11900, but tuition for undergrad programs is between $6000-20000 (law). I recently went back to school and OSAP doesn’t even cover my tuition now. My part-time job doesn’t quite cover the rest of my tuition, and I would be pretty much left to beg for food and rent if I didn’t have a loving family. Some students do not have this type of support. So don’t be so harsh on the current generation of students who are complaining about OSAP funding, when you are looking at the perspective of “back in my day”. It really is more of a struggle to pay for post-secondary education nowadays.

    Boy, I miss the “old days”…

  • Iremember

    I do agree with everyone that $7.50 is MORE than adequate to get some amazing food. I.E. If you buy meat on sale or in an ethnic grocer, there’s enough money in that 7.50 to buy 4-10lbs of meat, provided you don’t need to dine on prime rib every night. (and even if you needed prime rib, you can get it on sale and buy 1.5lbs of it!).

  • A Student

    Hey YoullLive, I don’t think any of us are just sitting here complaining – I certainly agree with you that if you had absoutely no choice, it would be wise to perhaps take a year off if you can’t make enough money in the summer to cover your expenses.

    However, I think what Cindy was trying to present is a rebuke the common conviction that there is no way you won’t have enough time for part-time work. It’s true that some programs are heavier in work load and some students need amazing grades for what they want to pursue (ie Medicine, Law, Dentistry, grad).

    Fortunately, my program has the co-op program, and we have 5 four-month internships throughout our 5 year program, which is enough for me to cover my tuition and living expenses. But Iremember, I know some programs can be very expensive. It’s nice that you have support from your family =)

  • Give me a break

    Get a job for chrissakes and welcome to the real world. If you know your program is expensive and you want to go…save beforehand and go when you can afford it. Then work part-time during the year and full-time through the summer. It’s not rocket science…

  • Alana

    Some people I knew in college had 3 part time jobs to cover the expenses/tuition. OSAP as far as I know it is really for school expenses such as books/tuition, not for McDonalds and Starbucks! If it’s too expensive for you than go to a college/university closer to home. Most people I know did that as well to save more.

  • Mike

    If trend chasing students didn’t need to study storefront so badly there wouldn’t be a story, $7.50 a day is plenty. Maybe at home they would spend more time reading instead of fighting for their right to borrow, do they really think an increased amount would be added to the grant?

  • African

    You Canadian kids have it easy. Most countries don’t assit students with any loans. You fund your education on your own.

    However, this is a rich country with the means to fully assit students if it wants to.

    To all who complain about a “canadian student getting more money from the canadian government”: Have you considered how much money your government spends on NON-CANADIANS? ie Afghanistan, Egypt, Haiti, Bosnia, Africa? Wouldn’t you rather that money (or at least some) goes towards educating Canadians?

    To the ones who want students to get part-time jobs: Consider U of T (St george campus) which has about 30,000 students. Let’s assume 20,000 or 15,000 of these rely on OSAP. Are there enough part-time jobs out there for even half of them?

    As a black man attending McMaster back in 2001, I couldn’t find a part-time job. I applied for about 25 jobs none of which I got. “Part-time jobs are just not out there for all 8,000 to 10,000 students who may need them.

    A little more money for students will not hurt anybody, especially since your government doesn’t mind spending it on NON-CANADIANS.

  • PhD Candidate

    The ideas here seem a bit ludicrous to me.

    Choosing to volunteer, take a full course load, sleep 8 hours, eat out, go to yoga, ride a bike, rent a movie, tutor kids, whatever, these are all your choices. If you can’t afford school, maybe get a job instead of one of these things? Nevermind the fact that $7.50/day is $225/month, you needn’t work that many hours to get a budget of $300/month on groceries which is what many single people spend.

    No, you can’t eat out, and it’s shocking that OSAP is being criticized for not allowing a healthy diet, eating out is not a healthy diet. I worked throughout my entire undergraduate degree, I played a varsity sport, I voulnteered as a tutor, I had friends, osap, and a GPA that got me into graduate school at arguably the best school in Canada (which is also where I did my undergrad). SO, yes, you can and should make your way through school.

    This argument is outrageous, do you have any idea how many people cannot afford to go to school at all, even with osap? And you’re complaining about haviing to work 10 hours a week or give up Starbucks. Welcome to reality.

  • James

    The question to ask is: what is the purpose of OSAP? One way to look at it is it’s a way of increasing the value of our society by ensuring that motivated and intelligent individuals have access to the highest education their abilities will allow them to complete, regardless of the financial situation of their families (whether through chronic poverty, or acute poverty due to illness or unemployment, etc.). The presumption is that when these individuals graduate, they will both pay back their loans, and go on to build greater wealth in our society (and pay more taxes and support a richer economy) than they would have been able to without the education.

    Presuming, for the moment, that an individual, due to their personal and/or family financial situation, is entirely dependent on OSAP. The way the system is currently designed, if they do find work, they can put in a maximum of about 4.9 hours a week at minimum wage before they begin to lose OSAP benefits. I don’t know of many jobs that will hire someone for only 4.9 hours per week. Even part time jobs are at least a dozen or so hours at least or it’s not worth training someone and having them on the payroll. The incentive is then either to work as much as possible while going to school and pay for education that way, or to avoid working at all. Presuming a relatively low paying job that a student is likely to get while going to school, paying tuition and all the other expenses associated with school, as well as living expenses, will leave most people living below the poverty line through their schooling years.

    I have to ask, what purpose is served by doing that? Suppose for a moment that anyone could get OSAP at a given amount for a given programme (say to go to a university to get a degree in chemistry in Toronto), regardless of income or family wealth? There would obviously be a requirement to maintain academic standing with a full course load, so that would preclude most people from working full time and going to school, and people not up to the education would fall by the wayside as they do now as well, so there is a limiting factor built in that way. What would the education environment in Ontario look like if this were the case instead?

    Compare someone from a poor family that works part time and gets to keep their money while they’re going through school, to the individual from a poor family under the current regime that has to live significantly below the poverty line to receive a loan. Would society not be better off having an individual that could maybe put some money away, buy themselves a car or items to make their lives better, or live in a modest apartment by themselves on their earnings instead of having to share it with 3 other students just to make ends meet? Wouldn’t such a person be in a much better position to be a fully integrated member of society when they emerged from school? Wouldn’t they be in a much better position to actually pay back the loan more quickly? And what of those people who never needed OSAP to go to school because they had wealthy families to begin with? Well, if a loan carries interest, ramping up to market rates over a relatively short period of time, it would be foolish not to pay off the loan very quickly with the money that they already had.

    The question is: who is served by the status quo of the OSAP programme now? There must be at least a marginal value to society in that some people will get educations that they could not have afforded otherwise, no matter how hard it was financially to do it. However, the notion that the parsimonious administration of a loan infrastructure provides reasonable value for what it costs society is simply a foolish notion. Why not consider loans to all comers at a rate that will allow a reasonable standard of living while a person is performing well in school, possibly with grant money for truly low income families to level the playing field in socio-economic factors not directly related to the actual education? After all, it’s not a handout, it’s an investment with both direct and indirect payback for the government and society as a whole.

  • Laura

    I read both articles, and I think the tone of this article suited it just fine. This sounds like a lot of rich kids maybe it was just the way it was written who knows. I have lived below the poverty line the whole 17 years I have been living. I am applying for OSAP this year as I plan to start college in the fall. I will have no help from my parents, I will rely on only OSAP for assistance, no it’s not a lot and yes it does take some good budgeting skills. Who needs fast-food lunches? Homemade lunches in my opinion have always been healthier and I should know I have taken them my whole life. So when we start whining about the money the government gives to students maybe instead of saying what can the government do to help us? maybe we should say what can we do to lower our cost of living, maybe by making that tea at home instead of paying $4.50 for it?

  • Sarah

    Starbucks is a luxury, simple as that. You can buy a large bag of fair trade coffee for $15, and that will last you a long time. Tea isn’t expensive either if you make it yourself. These students obviously don’t need OSAP if they can afford Starbucks.

    I am an unemployed (but job searching!) student on OSAP, and I have enough money for my education. My parents aren’t paying for it all either, they set up an RESP and bought me a computer for my birthday and some household things, but the rest is up to me.

  • Jack

    What most people here fail to realize is that many students simply lack the space or equipment to process food in order to eat more economically. I was in residence for 3 years. During that time I had a mandatory meal plan of around $3000~$4000 for the year (yes, mandatory, meaning if you don’t eat it you’re just throwing money away, and the cafe prices of course are outrageous). The whole residence building of 300 or so students had only two kitchens that were difficult to access and often not kept in the best of conditions (stovetop fail, sink clogged, etc…). Buying stock coffee requires a coffeemaker, sandwiches requires a surface for cutting and a mini fridge for keeping things (public fridges often look and smell like barf), think about the various appliances we take for granted when it comes to cooking, now remember how small student dorms or off campus rooms generally are.

    And it should be noted that working full time means a fixed schedule and total freedom for whenever you’re not at work. In that kind of lifestyle it is extremely easy to develop a routine, learn some proper cooking, and eat economically and healthily. For the past year this has certainly been my experience. Meanwhile, school life has no routine, as all sorts of obligations come up randomly all the time whether from class scheduling, professor appointments, clubs, services, events, social circle, etc… In this environment fixed habits that take significant chunks of time (such as weekly groceries and daily cooking) are very difficult to fit in. This, plus the intense stress students are placed under due to class workload, becomes the number one reason why students usually go for quick and convenient solutions to food, even if it means more expensive. It’s perfectly understandable. If you can maintain a habit of cooking while in school, then either you’re not engaged in school enough or you’re just one of the rare excellent people (in which case you shouldn’t use yourself as an example).

    Getting a job? That’s at least 8 hours a week gone that you could’ve used for studying, or 8 hours of resting to regain sanity from overstudying at other times (remember that often you study on weekends too). And it won’t even make any difference, because if you earn more money, OSAP gives you less money. There’s a small allowance that OSAP allows you, but it’s not much to make a difference. In tough programs like engineering at good universities like waterloo or UofT, working more than one shift per week would practically be academic suicide, especially for people who aim to get above a certain average for every course (e.g. 80) just to get a slight better chance to get into a good grad school.

    Though, I personally think drinking starbucks tea on a daily basis is a bit extreme. Nonetheless, the comments should be more forgiving and most are clearly from people who don’t have a good understanding of the student situation. OSAP has lots of other flaws unrelated to how generous they are though. For instance, my parents are living apart for work reasons, but not legally separated, but this means they each pay a separate rent/mortgage, and has separate transportation costs and separate food costs. Does OSAP ever take this into account? There is no where that I can report such a situation, and it’s not even in their list of scenarios where they’d be willing to reassess.

  • not known

    $7.50 is more than enough for food if one gets off the couch, quits nagging and cooks a meal. Home-made food is much healthier and after a few screw-ups one will learn how to cook a nice tasting food.
    If one is determined enough, one shall do what it takes to succeed even below poverty line for happiness is not in illuminated castles, it is deep within your hearts wherever your hearts be.

  • Strugglingstudent

    Wow so obviously people reading this didn’t get that the ‘allowence’ was how much you were allowed to make while in school if you didnt want osap to take back there loan!!

    They have recently changed the osap limit to 103 a week.. still not enough for some people like me.

    On top of going to college which will be 3600 for the year plus books, i get grants. So osap covers my schooling and book completely. I have to pay monthly fee’s of car insurance and gas about 350 a month. (I saved up for my car, its 1 1997 saturn, nothing special gets me from a to b) Plus my phone contract 60 a month. Then add food, miscellaneous expenses (you can only be so frugal), I am still 150 in the red every month because I can’t make anymore then the restricted amount, or osap is going to make me give money back.. money I don’t have so I’m shit out of luck. I come from a low income family.. I’m not rich, and no my parents can’t afford college for me, they didn’t go themselves..

  • Frank

    $9000 OSAP loan
    -$880 (TTCx8mo.)
    -$4800(Rentx8mo.)
    -$2400(remainder of tuition even after dropping 60% of each paychequex4mo.)
    -$360(internetx8mo.)
    =$560
    Devided over 8 months = $70/mo. for food. If I work I get $200 tops, but even one full shift per week at minimum wage will put me over the $50/week limit, so that will reduce the $9000 starting point. I will need to borrow text books and study with friends just to the the lesson plans. No phone, no TV, no clothes. Cleaning supplies will consist of dishsoap and hot water. God help me if i get sick and need medication. It isn’t possible to live on OSAP and got to school in Toronto.

  • drumstyx

    7.50 a day is PLENTY in my opinion. I’ve been living on welfare while in high school, and had 200 a month for food, only occasionally needing to be offset by the food bank (only due to the fact that I couldn’t afford the bus, so shopped at the Rabba). It’s just the fact that they DON’T give 7.50 a day for food in all truth. As Frank said above me, they’ll give you something around $10 000, but rent, and other expenses are not cheap at all. I’d say at least 50% of students are “cheating” the OSAP system by hiding something, simply because they NEED to. I’ll be making cash under the table with something this year, and I’ve got some extended family helping out that OSAP has no idea about.

    Really though, if I got $225 a month for food, I would be OVERJOYED! Obviously you have to give up your Starbucks and Subway, it’s called living like a student.

  • sk

    This is ridiculous. I’ve been a student for a few years now and $7.50 a day is plenty. One year OSAP gave me so little money I had to live on $100/month for food (less than $3.50/day). Granted that was only for the one year, but just goes to show that a little goes a long way. (And no, I didn’t live off of KD and instant noodles–these students need to stop eating out every single meal and start cooking themselves. It’s healthier, too.)

    I have to pay for university all by myself too and I know how much it all adds up to (outrageous tuition, textbooks, rent, food, and other living expenses). I don’t have time for a part-time job during the school year either. But OSAP (along with working summers and applying for any financial aid I’m eligible for) has generally done a good job of giving me just enough so I can scrape by every year. And really that’s all I’m asking for! Some people need to suck it up and realize that when you’re a student, you can’t live in luxury all the time–if you want the extras, pay for it out of your own pocket. So no, you do NOT need that Starbucks tea–for that price, you can probably buy 20 tea bags in the store. All this complaining is getting really excessive.

    (I’m sure for some students OSAP truly isn’t enough, but for most people I think it’s just an issue of bad budgeting and spending way more than they need to.)

  • sk

    Oh, and by the way, how can you possibly complain about OSAP when you own a car??? I just don’t get it. If it’s that big of a problem, sell the car, stop paying for insurance/gas every month, and take public transit like the rest of us! (Unless you really, REALLY need that car for some reason, but that’s not the case for 99% of students.)

  • Jeff

    I think the reason some ignorant people here are angry is because they dont understand that student loans are student LOANS. 7.50 a day is brutal for food, and I rely on my significant other to help make ends meet while I study. If OSAP were to raise the food allowance to even $10 a day life would be easier for all students, and it is not a free handout since it would be paid back upon graduation.

    Student loans are not free, not handouts, not living off the government. They are a way to encourage the education of young Canadians to ensure we have a thriving economy for the future.

  • Christina

    Well I want to say something.
    I saved up the money I made from working for TWO YEARS. It took less than 5 months for it to all go to the school. And I still owe them $4000.
    The money for my textbooks came out of my meal plan, meaning the only thing I can AFFORD is a large coffee or two every day.. that’s it.. $1.52. And while you might say that we don’t have to go out and get the 7 dollar meals, think again. Because other than a 7 dollar meal, you can’t GET a full meal!
    As for going to pubs to party? I don’t even have a friend out here, because I’ve done nothing but study. The people I live with don’t even know who I am because I never hang out with them. I’m always studying.
    I’m going tomorrow to see if I am even allowed to get a job. Because with OSAP, if you work more than they want you to, they take their money back! People seem to forget that fact! So while I’d happily work 7 days a week to pay for this, I’m not even allowed to.
    Now tell me how I’m a spoiled brat…

  • Jordan

    The amount of money the Ontario “Student Assistance” Program gives is disgusting. I have rent, books, a bus pass, food, and all of my bills to cover. I work my ass off all year to the point that I don’t sleep cause I have to study at some point, NEVER EVER go out with friends, and I just scrape by.

  • Angie

    To everyone saying ”get a job” – I would LOVE to. Please, direct me to this mythical land of available jobs since I have been searching for one for the past three years. I would be more than happy to work at McDonald’s, considering that my OSAP only comes close to covering my almost $7 000 tuition fee, with only $700 of that being an actual student loan. Of course, a part time job would mean I would get significantly less financial aid and fall even further short.

    While I’m grateful for my low-income and permanent disability grants, I am disappointed that I need to use them to pay my tuition when it means that I now have another student loan from the bank (with, obviously, higher interest rates than OSAP) to pay for my books, as well as a monthly transit pass. My family would help me if they could, but the bottom line is that they can’t and had to use a credit card to pay the remainder of my fees last year.

    I am not a competitive candidate for a job without prior experience or an education, and if I deferred right now I would not be likely to find a means to save up. OSAP is a LOAN, not a gift, and I don’t see why I should be criticized for hoping that the government might support the education of its students.

  • Angie

    Let’s be honest, even the most competitive criminology program is not any harder than a mid-level, say, chemistry or linguistics program. You are lucky to have only 20 hours of class a week, which would not be possible if you had more lengthy lectures or labs. Some people really do NOT have the time to hold down a job even if they can find one because very few companies will invest in training someone who does not have flexible hours or shift availability.

 

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