Ontario budget 2017: Recent graduates get a little reprieve in paying back OSAP loans

Ontario budget 2017: Recent graduates get a little reprieve in paying back OSAP loans

Recent graduates can now wait until they earn $35,000 a year before they begin to repay the provincial portion of their student loans, a tweak to last year's surprise budget highlight that overhauled the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

The previous minimum salary requirement was $25,000.

The change takes effect in September, making it applicable to students graduating in the spring or fall of this year. Much of the government's OSAP reforms — announced in the 2016 budget — will come into effect in the upcoming school year as well.

If students have a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), it will no longer affect the financial assistance they receive, another addition to the measures announced last year.

The province will also give mature students — anyone out of high school for four years or more — the same access to OSAP supports as younger students.

As previously announced, students with family incomes of $90,000 or less will receive OSAP grants to cover or exceed the average tuition cost that will not need to be repaid.

The average tuition for university students in Ontario for the 2017-2018 school year is $6,540, while college students will pay an average of $2,940.

Development opportunities for students

Over three years, Ontario will commit $190 million to create development opportunities for students at all education levels as well as recent graduates. Among the initiatives in the Career Kick-Start Strategy:

- Post-secondary students will have full, free access to LinkedIn Lynda.com, an online hub that offers thousands of courses, through the province's eCampusOntario website.

- $68-million for employers to create workplace learning opportunities through the Career Ready Fund.

- Expanding the Ontario Internship Program for new graduates with an addition of 100 placements.

Elementary education investments

With the rollout of full-day kindergarten complete, the province is committing to cap classroom sizes to 30 students for the 2017-2018 school year.

That cap size will be reduced to 29 for the 2018-2019 school year. The current full-day kindergarten class average is 26 students, and is staffed with a teacher and an early childhood educator.

Without committing to a specific cap size, the government says it will continue to make investments to aim for an average class size of 25 in Grades 4 to 8.