The Ontario Tuition Grant (OTG) has undergone its annual increase, and the Province is looking to encourage more post-secondary students to apply.

For Ontario undergrads in University and College degree programs, the grant is now valued at $1780, or $890 per term. This means that the value of the grant has been increased by 2.8 per-cent since the 2013-2014 study period.

The Provincial Government developed the grant, which represents a 30 per-cent tuition rebate, in 2012. The grant was initially valued at $1680 for University and College degree students, and rises each year to at a rate capped at 3 per cent.

Tuition costs in Ontario are currently limited to a 3 per cent increase until the year 2017, meaning that the OTG program will distribute funds that increase at a proportional rate to average tuition fees in Ontario.

According to the Ontario government, “most students who receive the grant pay less in net tuition than they did a decade ago.”

The tuition grant has always been available to studentsless than four years out of high schoolor less than six years if they have a permanent disability, but the Ontario government announced, the grant will now also extend to cover, students five years out of high school if they are in the final year of a five year co-op program, as well as students attending private post-secondary institutions.

“The 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant is helping young people from low- and middle-income families pursue their passions and gain valuable skills at college and university”, said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities,  “A post-secondary education should be accessible based on a student’s ability to learn, not to pay”.

Rick Camman, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources at the Ontario Undergraduate Students Association (OUSA), and Vice President of Student Affairs for Wilfrid Laurier’s Students Union (WLUSU), says, “It is safe to say that the 230,000 college and university students that did receive the 30% tuition grant last year are in much better financial shape than they would have been without it.”

In an OUSA report called “Paying Our Way: A Look at Student Financial Assistance Usage in Ontario”, released in July, the Association challenged the Ontario government’s limited age eligibility associated with the grant. The report stated that the grant should be made accessible to students, “regardless of when they graduated from high school.”

According to Camman, receiving a post-secondary education is one of the most effective tools in combatting poverty, and the Ontario government’s exclusive age restrictions, render many students from low-income backgrounds ineligible for the grant.

Camman calls limitations, “problematic”, also stating that; “many students including first-generation University students, aboriginals, and low-income students tend to attend university as mature students or later in their life. For example, some may not start their University education until their twenties, in comparison to people who begin university at age 17 or 18.”

Students in two-term programs have until March 1, 2015, or 60 days before the end of their study period, whichever is later, to apply for the grant.