How To Qualify For Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)

How To Qualify For Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)

Written by Mark Gregorski
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 1, 2021

It’s no secret that attending a college or university in Ontario can be hard on your wallet. The province routinely ranks number one when it comes to tuition costs, a distinction not celebrated by students hoping to invest in their education.

A 2019 report by Statistics Canada confirms Ontario’s high cost of tuition. Here are the average annual tuition costs for 2019/2020.

  • $6,080 for humanities programs
  • $6,134 for socials sciences programs
  • $9,503 for business and public administration programs
  • $6,814 for physical and life science technologies programs

While some students have the financial means to fund their post-secondary pursuits, others aren’t so lucky. Many students must rely on scholarships, grants, loans, and government-sponsored aid programs. One of the most prominent programs is the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

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What Is Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)? 

OSAP is a financial assistance program that helps students and their families cover post-secondary education costs. The program is funded by the federal government and the province of Ontario. It aims to supplement students’ existing financial resources rather than fully replace them. 

There are essentially two types of funding available through OSAP:

  • Grants: These are a form of needs-based funding provided to students based on specific criteria, such as household income. You’re not required to pay back any grants you receive.
  • Student loans: These are borrowed funds you need to pay back once you graduate.

Learn how to pay off your student loan debt quickly.

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What Does OSAP Cover?

OSAP covers various expenses associated with attending a post-secondary institution, such as:

  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Equipment
  • Various fees charged by the school
  • Living expenses (for full-time students only)
  • Childcare (for full-time and part-time students with children)

Need help paying off your student loan? Try applying for the student loan repayment assistance program.

How Does OSAP Work? 

The goal of OSAP is to enable students to attend university or college, who would otherwise not be able to due to lack of adequate financial resources. At its core, it’s an education financing program, and it works in a straightforward manner.

Upon approval of your application, OSAP will forward the money directly to the university. The university will then apply the funds against your tuition account, clearing the outstanding balance. Should there be a shortfall, it will be up to you to pay the balance. Suppose your OSAP loans exceed your tuition cost. In that case, the surplus will be deposited into your bank account (if you arranged for direct deposit), which you can then use to pay for books, materials, equipment, etc.

Check out what happens to your student bank account when you graduate.

How To Qualify For OSAP?

You can apply for OSAP at any age, as long as your fall into one of the following categories:

  • You’re a Canadian citizen
  • You’re a permanent resident
  • You’re a protected person

You may not be eligible if your fall into one of the following categories:

  • You don’t meet the academic requirements
  • You have adequate financial resources, including access to other government financial aid programs to cover your university expenses
  • There is a significant difference between the income you reported on your OSAP application and the income reported on your tax return
  • You’ve defaulted on a student loan in the past
  • You have overpayments from grants, bursaries, or loans
  • You failed a credit check
  • You’ve been through a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal
  • You’ve reached your lifetime student loan limit
  • You’re an international student
  • You don’t reside in Ontario

If you qualify for OSAP, you can use it to fund your post-secondary education in any private or public university or college in the world, provided it’s been approved. To check if your school is approved, visit OSAP School Search.

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How Much Can You Get Through OSAP As A Full-Time Student?

The amount of money you can receive through OSAP varies and depends on several factors, such as:

  • Your education expenses – include tuition, books, living expenses, supplies, equipment, miscellaneous fees, and childcare costs.
  • Program load – whether you’re attending on a full-time or part-time basis
  • Program hours – applicable to students enrolled in a micro-credential program
  • Financial circumstance – consideration of your financial situation and that of your family, dependents, and other factors.
  • Access to other forms of financial aid – this includes scholarships and bursaries.

Check out these tax credits and deductions for students.

Maximum OSAP Amount You Can Get As A Full-Time Student

Below is an overview of the maximum amount that you can receive from OSAP. These amounts are for full-time students who are single and have no dependents.

Type Of Post-Secondary InstitutionOSAP Weekly Maximums: 2020-2021OSAP Weekly Maximums: 2021-2022
A public college or university in Ontario$545/week$405/week
An approved private post-secondary school in Ontario$545/week$405/week
A public college or university in another Canadian province$545/week$405/week
A private post-secondary school in another Canadian province$350/week$210/week
A private or public post-secondary school outside Canada$350/week$210/week

If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, or you’re a sole support parent, your weekly maximum amount increases from $545 to $830 for the 2020-2021 study period. For the 2021-2022 study period, it increases from $405 to $695.

Maximum OSAP Amount You Can Get As A Part-Time Student?

Below is an overview of the maximum amount you can receive from OSAP if you’re a part-time student. 

ProgramMaximum OSAP per Academic Year (2020-2021)Maximum OSAP per Academic Year (2021-2022)
Part-Time Canada Student LoanYour outstanding student loan balance is limited to $10,000 at any timeYour outstanding student loan balance is limited to $10,000 at any time
Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities$4,000$4,000
Canada Student Grant for
Part-Time Studies
$3,600$3,600
Canada Student Grant for
Part-Time Students with Dependants
$3,840$3,840
Ontario Part-Time Grant$500$500

Max OSAP Amount You Can Get As A Student In Micro-Credential Programs

If you’re planning to attend an approved micro-credential program at a public post-secondary institution in Ontario, you qualify for OSAP. The amount you’re entitled to get depends on several factors, including your family size and annual household income. The maximum per study period for programs commencing on January 1, 2021, is:

  • $5,000 for tuition, program fees, books, and equipment
  • $5 per study hour, as an education allowance

Find out if bankruptcy is the right answer to student loan debt.

How To Get More Money From OSAP?

You may be eligible to get extra financial assistance to supplement your OSAP payments through Canada Student Grants:

  • Maximum of $9,000 per year (if you’re a full-time student)
  • Maximum of $2,400 per year under the Skills Boost Top-Up to the Canada Student Grant program (if you’re a full-time student)
  • Maximum of $400 per month per child if you’re a parent 

You may also be able to obtain further funding if you’re an Indigenous person, a youth in or from Extended Society Care, or if you have a permanent disability.

Find out if you have any unclaimed cheques from the CRA.

How To Apply For OSAP?

Applying for the OSAP is easy enough and will only take about 15 minutes to complete.

You can complete your application online on the Government of Ontario website. Click on the Education and training link and then the OSAP link. Your first step will be to register for an account.

Once you’ve created an account, fill out and submit your application and attach copies of any necessary documents. Ensure you print out and sign the consents and declaration pages, which you can then upload to the OSAP website.

If this is your first time applying for OSAP, you must submit the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA).

Once your application is accepted, you’ll receive a welcome email from the National Student Loan Service Centre, along with further instructions to verify your banking details and identity.

Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) FAQs

Does OSAP cover residence? 

Yes, though the coverage isn’t specifically designated for a living space only. Instead, it’s a general-purpose living allowance to help pay for your living expenses while attending university. Only full-time students are eligible for this living allowance.

Is there an OSAP lifetime limit?

Yes. Once you reach the lifetime limit, you’ll no longer be eligible for any further OSAP funding. There are three categories of lifetime limits:
  • 340 weeks of funding for most students
  • 400 weeks of funding for students pursuing doctoral studies
  • 520 weeks of funding for students with permanent disabilities.

When is the deadline to apply for OSAP as a full-time student?

If you’re a part-time student or a full-time student entering a program with a duration of 21 weeks or more, you must submit your OSAP application 60 days before the end of your study term. If you’re a part-time student entering a program with a duration of 20 weeks or less, you must submit your OSAP application 40 days before the end of your study term. Regardless of your program’s length, you must submit your consent and declaration forms 40 days before the end of your study term.

Can I receive OSAP if I’m working?

Yes. However, your income may affect the amount of OSAP you receive, but only if you exceed certain thresholds. For example, if you’re a full-time student, the first $5,600 of employment earnings doesn’t factor into the OSAP payment calculation.  As an OSAP recipient, The Ontario government expects you to contribute a minimum of $3,600 toward your education, which means you may have to secure employment for at least a short period. Students with children or students enrolled in the Ontario Disability Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works are exempt from this $3,600 contribution requirement.

When do I have to repay my OSAP student loan?

You must start repaying your OSAP student loan six months after you graduate or cease your full-time studies. Interest accrues during the six-month grace period.

Final Thoughts

There’s no shame in seeking external funding when it comes to your post-secondary education – gone are the days when you could fund your degree by working a summer job. These days, a student loan or grant may be essential if you hope to attend university. If you’re planning on full-time studies, the OSAP program is quite generous: it will help cover your tuition, books, equipment, and even your living expenses and childcare costs. The financial support will enable you to focus on your grades at school rather than your bank account balance.


Rating of 5/5 based on 2 votes.

Mark is a writer who specializes in writing content for companies in the financial services industry. He has written articles about personal finance, mortgages, and real estate and is passionate about educating people on how to make smart financial decisions. Mark graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with a degree in finance and has more than ten years' experience as an accountant. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.

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