Last year, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities unveiled a new program that gave out $150 to any and every full-time post-secondary student in Ontario who applied for it, no strings attached. More than half a million students province-wide qualified for the Technology and Textbook Grant, or TTG, intended to help cover the “added academic expense related to textbooks and technology and other academic supplies,” as John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, told the Queen’s Journal last year.
“We felt $150 was a complimentary amount for some of these upfront costs people have,” Miloy told the Journal. “It is available to all students regardless of their financial circumstances.” When attending university keeps getting more and more expensive and less and less fair, the TTG was a very nice—albeit very small—thing for the government to do.
Too bad, then, that this year they’ve very quietly rolled it back. Now, unlike before, students have “to apply for and qualify for a Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan” (so: OSAP) to be considered eligible. Ineligible students who try to apply now receive a message online informing them that: “The ministry has no record of a processed OSAP application from you for the 2009-2010 academic year to date. To be considered for TTG, you must apply for full-time OSAP assistance.”
The argument could be made, of course, that those students who receive OSAP are those most in financial need. But that ignores the large segment of the student-going population with financial needs that don’t line up with OSAP’s own definition of the term, as well as those students with financial needs who would prefer to not take out a government loan to cover their costs. There are few students who couldn’t benefit from $150—and this year, even fewer of them will have the chance to.
The Ministry would not return our requests for comment.
David Topping is a full-time student at the University of Toronto.