Student Awards

OFFICE OF THE UNIVERSITY REGISTRAR

Student Awards

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​OSAP Appeals

Family Breakdown/Step-Parent Reviews

Family Breakdown Reviews

The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may administer reviews to allow an assessment without reference to one or both parent’s financial information in situations where there is a serious rift in the family and the student is estranged from one or both parents due to documented mental, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or drug or alcohol addiction in the student’s family.

The FAA should consider the following factors when administering family breakdown reviews:

  • severity and degree of the breakdown;
  • length of time the rift has existed;
  • reason for the final breakdown and the extent to which the student could have prevented this situation from occurring;
  • parental treatment of other siblings;     
  • reasons for the family breakdown;
  • attempts at, or likelihood of, reconciliation;
  • if the problem/rift exists with only one parent, consideration of the other parent’s position in the breakdown and his/her ability or willingness to assist the student;

Family breakdown reviews which are submitted where the parents’ rationale for not supporting the student is deemed to be arbitrary are not considered, such as the following examples (the list is not exhaustive): 

  • Parents feel that it is the responsibility of the government to fund postsecondary education;
  • Parents feel that once the student reach the age of 18, the student is independent;
  • Parents do not agree with the student’s choice of program or institution;
  • Parents do not approve of the student’s living arrangements.

Documentation required:

  • Written documentation from at least one third party individual, preferably a professional, who was directly involved with the situation (e.g., court reports; letters from police, social workers, children’s shelters or physicians). If a professional third party was not involved, documentation from other reliable third parties who were directly involved with the situation is required. (e.g., siblings, grandparents, other relatives). Third party documents must contain the contact information for the third party, including telephone number and address, and the signature of the third party.
  • A letter from the student detailing the situation:
    • Date of the final rift with parent(s);
    • If the rift is with both parents, date the student left home and how the student has supported her/himself since leaving home;
    • Any steps taken by the student to correct the situation
    • Possibility of reconciliation.
  • A letter from the student’s parent(s) is not required.  However, in situations where only one parent was involved in the problem/rift, the FAA may ask the student to provide a letter from the parent who is not directly involved in the situation.
  • The extent, if any, of professional involvement in the situation (e.g., social agency, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor)
  • If the rift is with both parents, proof of the student’s separate residence (e.g., copy of a lease or rental agreement).

Note:  Students who are receiving support under the Youth Without Shelter, Stay in School Program are only required to provide a third-party letter from the program identifying that they are living in the shelter provided by the program and receiving basic living supports while in school.

Step-Parent(s) Breakdown Reviews

The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may administer reviews to allow an assessment without reference to the step-parent’s financial information if the student’s situation meets all of the following criteria:

  • the step-parent is refusing to support the student;
  • the step-parent does not support the student directly or indirectly, and has not done so since the union.

Note:  If the student resides in the parental home and the natural parent has minimal income, the step-parent may be deemed to have indirectly supported the student.

Documentation required:

  • A letter from the student detailing the situation and their relationship with their step-parent.
  • A letter from the natural parent providing the date of marriage or common law union, a description of any prenuptial arrangements regarding the support of the children, and an explanation of how the natural parent has supported the student since the union.
  • A letter from the step-parent explaining the reason(s) why he or she will not support the student.
  • A copy of the prenuptial agreement/marriage contract, if one exists.

Additional criteria if parental union occurred before the student turned 16 years of age:

  • Evidence of more formal arrangements/prenuptial agreements that show the step-parent is not directly or indirectly contributing to the student’s expenses (the reasons for refusing to contribute do not constitute an arbitrary refusal to assist the student, as set out above.
  • A family budget completed by the natural parent indicating only his or her actual monthly gross and net income, expenses and the amount of support provided to the student.
Dependent Student Switches Contributing Parent

The OSAP or OTG-only application should be completed using information from the custodial parent or the parent with whom the student lives, or last lived.

  • A student can, however, change the parent identified on the application from year to year, provided the student actually changes residence or if the custodial/support arrangements for the student have changed.
  • A student cannot live with one parent and use the income of the other parent (e.g., because it is lower).

In some situations it may be difficult to establish which parent has been providing the student with primary support (e.g., student will be living 50% of time with each parent during study period, or student has not lived with either parent for several years). Indicators such as where the student last lived, where the student spends the summer holidays, or which parent covers exceptional costs may be considered when determining which parent should complete the application.

In any of the above situations, if the natural parent to whom the student is switching has remarried, the step-parent’s information must also be used to complete the application. If the step-parent refuses to provide financial assistance, a review may be applicable.

Documentation required:

  • Documentation to confirm the residence change (e.g., drivers licence);
  • A letter from the student outlining the change in residence;
  • A letter from the parent confirming the change in residence; and
  • A new OSAP application with the new supporting parent’s financial information must be submitted.
Separated/Divorced or Deceased Parent

If a student’s parents separate/divorce, or if one parent dies before the halfway point of the student’s study period, then the student’s financial need for OSAP funding and/or eligibility for OTG may be calculated based on the current year estimated income of the remaining custodial parent.

  • For a separation or divorce, this review must be used in combination with an Estimated Income Review.
  • For the death of one parent, the surviving parent’s previous year income can be used instead of doing an Estimated Income Review.

Documentation required:

  • A letter from the student’s remaining custodial parent outlining the date and change of the family’s circumstances;
  • In the case of separation/divorce:
    • a copy of the separation/divorce agreement indicating which parent has custody and the amount of financial support that is being provided by the non-custodial parent, if any; or
    • if there is no separation agreement, an affidavit from the parent that provides the date of the separation and outlines the custody/financial support arrangements, if any;
  • In the case of the death of a parent, proof of death (e.g., a copy of the death certificate).

Note: In the case of a separation or divorce, documentation relating to the amount of financial support provided by the non-custodial parent, if any, is to be used as supporting documentation in the Estimated Income Review.

Student's Only Parent is Deceased

If a student has been accepted for OSAP purposes as having only one custodial parent (i.e., was never married, or was separated or divorced and not remarried at the time of the application) and the custodial parent dies before the halfway point of the student’s study period, then the student’s financial need may be calculated without any expected parental contribution.

Documentation Required:

  • a copy of the death certificate of the supporting parent (which would note the parent's marital status at time of death); and
  • a letter from the student explaining their current situation.
Family Breakdown/Step-Parent Reviews - Ontario Access Grants (Single Independent Students, Sole-support Parents, and Married Students)

The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may determine a single independent student, a married student, or sole-support parent is not able to provide the required parental income information to be considered for the Ontario Access Grant. (Note: The student meets all other access grant eligibility criteria.)

Documentation Required:

  • Written documentation from at least one third party individual, preferably a professional, who was directly involved with the situation (e.g., court reports; letters from police, social workers, children’s shelters or physicians). If a professional third party was not involved, documentation from other reliable third parties who were directly involved with the situation is required. (e.g., siblings, grandparents, other relatives). Third party documents must contain the contact information for the third party, including telephone number and address, and the signature of the third party.
  • A letter from the student detailing the situation.
  • Supporting documentation required based on the reviewable family breakdown/step-parent situations.
Crown Ward Status from Outside Ontario

A student may be considered independent for the purposes of the OSAP assessment or OTG-only if he or she has Crown ward status from another province or jurisdiction (i.e., a current Crown ward/ward of the Crown or was a Crown ward at the time of his or her eighteenth birthday and has never been adopted or returned to family).
For the purposes of OSAP, the definition of a crown ward is someone who has been made a ward of the Crown pursuant to a court order made under the (Ontario) Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11.

If a student is able to provide documentation that he or she has Crown ward status from another province or jurisdiction and that he or she has not been adopted, he or she may be considered as independent for the purposes of the OSAP assessment and no parental contribution is required.

The Crown ward status statements in the Student Profile should be “No”, since these youth do not meet the OSAP definition of Crown ward and are not eligible for the Living and Learning Grant, Ontario Access Grant for Crown wards, or 100% Tuition Aid for Youth Leaving Care.

Documentation required:

  • Written documentation from a children’s aid society or equivalent from the province or jurisdiction where the student was made a ward of the Crown stating that the individual was made a ward of the Crown and that the individual has not been adopted or returned to family.
  • Other types of child protection statuses are not acceptable (e.g., temporary care order, society ward, foster care, kinship care, etc.). 
High School Graduation Date

High School Graduation Date for Homeschooled Students

If a student completed his or her secondary school education through homeschooling, it is the student’s/parent’s responsibility to identify when they consider the full-time high school studies to have been completed.

Specific indicators would vary depending on how the student completed high school credentials or equivalents and what the institution requires from homeschooled students, but may include following:

  • Dates that the student completed Grade 12 U/M courses via correspondence, on-line learning, night school, day school, etc.;
  • Dates that student completed some other curriculum package, if the curriculum included final exams, exam dates;
  • Dates of SAT Reasoning Test/ACT and/or SAT Subject Tests;
  • Dates of Advanced Placement exams;
  • Homeschool Transcript form or Homeschool Credit Evaluation form – a form completed by the parent (or whoever is supervising the homeschooling) to show the subjects studied, dates completed, grades, etc.

If none of the above exist, student’s acceptance into the institution may require that the student provide a summary or portfolio of the subjects or projects they studied, which should include completion dates. Sometimes the student may provide third party confirmation or evaluation (e.g., from the principal of a traditional and accredited high school) and that would include a transcript or credit evaluation, etc. and there may be dates associated with the third party information.

High School Graduation Date – Ontario Tuition Grant

This review may be used to adjust the high school completion date for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for the OTG. The review may be used for students who apply for the OTG through the OTG-only application or the OSAP application. 

Both the OSAP and OTG-only applications ask a student to report the date that they last attended high school on a full-time basis, On both applications, instructions indicate that if they left high school for at least one year, and later returned to high school, they should enter the date they first left high school.

For the purposes of the OSAP assessment, using the earlier date ensures that students who complete high school as mature students are less likely to be considered dependent students.

For the purposes of determining eligibility for the OTG, if a student returns to high school after being absent for at least one year, they may be considered eligible for the OTG if the last time they attended high school on a full time basis was less than four years before the start of the current study period (or six years for a student with a permanent disability). This review will not affect student’s status with respect to their OSAP application and/or any other type of OSAP funding (e.g., single independent, single dependent, married, sole support parent)

Example:

On the OSAP application, a student enters a “last attended high school date” of January 1, 2008, thus making her a single independent student for the purpose of OSAP funding, and ineligible for an OTG.

The student requests a review because January 1, 2008 is the first time she left high school. The most recent date she attended high school was June 20, 2011.

The student’s study period starts September 7, 2013. Since June 20, 2011 is less than four years (or six years if she has a disability) before the start of the current study period, the student may be considered eligible for the OTG, if all other eligibility criterion are met.

Documentation required:

  • Letter from student explaining the situation;
  • Proof of date last attended a secondary school (e.g., transcripts, electronic transcripts from OUAC or OCAS), or equivalent (see note below) on a full-time basis;
  • Extended Group Parental information sections of the application completed (student can print these pages of the paper application and have parent(s) complete them);
  • Extended Group Parent’s signature and consent (student can print this page of the paper application and have parent(s) complete.

Note: Students who return to high school after dropping out, may choose to obtain their high school credits through a secondary school or an Independent Learning Centre which is Ontario’s designated provider of Ministry of Education credits and the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) through distance education.

Extended OTG Eligibility for Military Service

A student may request a review to extend eligibility for the OTG if he or she was performing full-time military service with the Canadian Forces during any portion of the first four years after completion of high school (or six years for a student with a permanent disability). Periods of basic military training may be included in determining the extension, but not education and training opportunities paid by the Forces (e.g., Subsidized Education plans for candidates who enter the Regular Force through the option to have the Canadian Forces fund their technical college or university studies).

Documentation Required:

  • Proof of full-time service for individuals in the Regular Force or proof of full-time deployment for individuals in the Reserve Force (e.g., a letter from the Canadian Forces commanding officer).

Note: if the review is approved, the student will be required to provide all additional documentation required for the OTG, i.e., parental income information and signed parental signature pages.

Legal Guardianship Review

For OSAP purposes, a Legal Guardian means a person with whom a dependent student resides or who is financially supporting the student in a parent-like relationship, but where the individual is not the student's parent, step-parent, or sponsor.

Court-appointed legal guardians do not always have an obligation to provide financial support and may instead have a more limited role of administering the student's financial affairs until he or she reaches the age of majority (in some cases this service is provided in return for remuneration), or in cases where a support obligation exists, these obligations may end when the student reaches the age of majority (18).

If a Legal Guardian demonstrates that he or she does not live with and/or financially support the dependent student, but is simply administering the student's financial affairs, the student, even if he or she is dependent as defined by OSAP, should be reassessed as an independent student.

If a Legal Guardian has an obligation, set out in a court order, to financially support the student, but the obligation ends when the student reaches the age of majority, the student status would not change if the student reaches age of majority during their current study period. The student must be advised to apply under their independent status on their next OSAP application.

However, if there is a logical break in the study period (e.g., upcoming winter or summer term) the FAA may override the study period end date (to the end of the current term) and guide the student to re-apply for the remaining term(s) as a separate study period and reporting their new independent status.

Documentation required:

  • a detailed letter from the Legal Guardian outlining his/her relationship with the student and identifying whether he/she is living with or financially supporting the student; or
  • if applicable, a copy of the Court Order specifying that the legal guardian is not legally required to continue to financially support the student beyond the age of majority.

Note: if a Legal Guardian has an obligation, set out in a court order, to financially support the student, the income of the Legal Guardian’s spouse, if any, must be reported in the OSAP application, unless a step-parent review would apply.

Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT)

The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) is an Ontario government office, and is part of the Ministry of the Attorney General. The OPGT serves as a guardian to individuals who are minors and have no other legal guardian or to safeguard the legal, personal, and/or financial interests of individuals who have been deemed “mentally incapable.”

Typically, for individuals who are postsecondary students the OPGT would have authority to manage a mentally incapable individual’s financial and related legal affairs, but would not have authority to make any personal care decisions on behalf of the individual. In this capacity, the OPGT would sign the student’s OSAP application and MSFAA.

If the OPGT has a responsibility for a student solely because the student is a minor, the student must sign his or her own documents, like any other student.