Premier Kathleen Wynne and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews stopped by Fanshawe College to hear the issues students and faculty are facing.
Tuesday’s visit is part of Wynne’s week long tour of Ontario Universities and Colleges.
The pair was met by hydro protestors before touring the Norton Wolf School of Aviation Technology.
Fanshawe’s President Peter Devlin and Fanshawe Student Union President Carlie Forscythe escorted Wynne and Matthews to a town hall discussion with students and faculty members in the hangar.
Students voiced concerns about tuition, hydro costs, jobs and government spending.
The premier assured attendees that the new plan for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is designed to provide low-income families.
“The amount that students get as part of this new program is not a loan, so they will never have to pay it back,” Wynne said.
Forscythe and other students asked the premier to explain how the system would work and the requirements to be eligible for free tuition.
“The $50,000 and under free tuition is for university,” Matthews said. “For college students it is $80,000 or less [for family income]. You will have more in non-repayable grants than you will in tuition.”
Matthews says students can find out how much aid they can receive using their calculator tool.
In addition to supporting low-income families, OSAP is expected to be available for mature students or adult learners.
“If you have kids, you get more,” Matthews said. “If you live with your parents, you will get less than if you live on your own. So if you have to go away, there is actually more money for you to cover the increased living costs.”
Some international students raised concerns about programs to help reduce their costs to study in Ontario.
According to Wynne, the government is looking into new grants and programs to help reduce the costs for out-of-province students.
The changes to the program are expected to help approximately 210,000 students in September.