Trent University student union says there’s a flip side to post-secondary tuition cuts

A day after the Ontario government announced a 10 per cent cut to post-secondary tuition, the number crunching continues.

It works out to around $340 for college students and $660 for those attending university.

While the reduction is being welcomed by students, there are some downsides they might not be aware of.

“A lot of folks haven’t read into exactly what ramifications this [cut] has,” said Brandon Remmelgas, president of the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA).

He says with the reduction comes decreases to the amount of OSAP grants students will have access to and a decrease in the proportion of grants to loans, meaning more loans and fewer grants.

Something else that looks good on the surface, such as making ancillary fees optional, he says might actually result in service cuts or even raised fees.

Remmelgas uses public transit as an example.

“Just because some students who have cars can opt [out], doesn’t mean those who rely on public transit aren’t still going to need the same level of transit and the same reliability of service. So we’re going to have to charge those students more but those students are likely in a financial position where they can’t afford to pay more.”

At Trent, ancillary fees are just under $300 per term. Opting out will likely impact the TCSA’s food bank program.

“We provide students with access to grocery carts to buy groceries. That fee is only 56 cents but if it’s opt-outable, we now can provide less assistance to students that need it.”

Maureen Adamson, president of Fleming College in Peterborough, says making up a 12 per cent reduction in revenue will require a delicate touch.

“We will have to be creative,” she said.

“We’ll have to find other ways to generate revenue and we’ll need to make sure that students have the right choices in terms of the ancillary fees that they may want to participate in.”

The tuition cuts take effect in the 2019-2020 term.

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