money matters roundup

January 2014 Edition

This page has been set up to alert students to some updates on all things financial that are relevant this semester. It will be updated from time to time to reflect short- and medium-term issues around university and money as relevant to a semester, but may also be a place for unusual financial news as well.

Click on any of the headlines below to expand them to useful details and links. Any questions or feedback on the information here, please let me (Thomas MacKay) know by email.

Emergency Bursary Applications Still Possible

Innis College has a committee that considers requests for emergency financial aid from students through to the end of March 2014.

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The committee considers all the circumstances of a student’s situation, from whether the student has tapped into all the financial support that might be possible (student loans, etc.) and the nature of the student’s expenses.

The process is simple:

  1. Download the bursary form and begin to fill it out (pencil is fine).
  2. Book an appointment to see me (Tom) at the Innis Registrar’s Office, 416-978-2513, so we can go over the application and I can try to get any clarification I might need.

If you are an international student, sometimes emergency aid is possible, but it is a much different and trickier process. Book an appointment to see Tom to get more info.
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OSAP for 2013-2014

OSAP will largely be automatic in terms of receiving your second installment, but you may also be needing to update OSAP or even apply if you didn’t in the Fall.

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If you are receiving OSAP for the full Fall/Winter study period, you may not have much to do right now, since the second installment is released with the University’s confirmation of your full time course load for January.

But it is a good time to take stock of the information you provided OSAP, especially around your study period income, so consider updating OSAP by visiting Enrolment Services if you need to revise such figures.

You also should know there is still time both to appeal OSAP, if some apply to you and could improve your assessment, and there is time to actually apply for OSAP if you have the ability (or have decided you have the need) to do so even at this late stage.

Appeal/Document Deadline (40 days before end of study period) = 21 March 2014
Application Deadline (60 days before the end of study period) = 1 March 2014

(If either apply, actually aim for an earlier date – take account of processing time.)

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Summer 2014 OSAP

Thinking of taking summer courses and may need OSAP? Here’s details on how to qualify — and apply

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Summer OSAP is possible and now is the time to apply. There are two scenarios a student can be in when looking at summer OSAP, which are determined by the answer to this question: did you receive OSAP this past 2014 Winter Session?

If YES, then applying for Summer OSAP is a matter of filling a paper form — since what you are doing is extending your 2013-2014 OSAP application to include weeks in the summer. The form is here. In this case, you can qualify for OSAP if you take at least 1.5 credits spread out over the whole summer, or you can get OSAP for half of the summer if you take 1.0 credit either in the “F” or the “S” part of the summer session. (You can also qualify with one F1 half-course, for that very small duration of time.)

If NO, then you are applying for OSAP for the first time and under the 2013-2014 cycle, so you have to do it online. In this case, you only qualify for OSAP if you are doing a minimum 1.5 credits spread out over the summer. (Doing courses just in the “F” or “S” part of the summer doesn’t help, because half the summer doesn’t by itself meet he minimum number of weeks needed for OSAP.

The table below (also found on the form to apply) shows the minimum credits as described above, and also the minimum credits you need if you have a registered permanent disability — the minimum load is lower to qualify for OSAP. Also note that this table reminds you that the minimum credit load to qualify for OSAP is also the minimum number of credits you must pass to meet OSAP’s definition of “satisfactory academic progress”.

Period of Study General Requirements Requirements for students with documented permanent disabilities
Minimum credits to receive OSAP Must pass Minimum credits to receive OSAP Must pass
May to August 1.5 1.5 1.0 1.0
May to June only* 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5
July to August only* 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5
F1 course* 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
* Must have received OSAP funds at the University of Toronto for the 2014 Winter Session to be considered.

NOTE – if you are using the form (applying for OSAP to continue into the summer from current OSAP application at U of T) then note the deadline to submit the form for summer fee deferral: 31 March 2014.

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OSAP and graduation

If you are graduating in June you may be wondering what happens in terms of OSAP and OSAP repayment afterwards.

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A great starting resource is the University’s own tip sheet regarding re-payment, which is a link off of this page.

Enrolment Services and the National Student Loans Service Centre also team up for an on-campus info session on OSAP repayment. This free workshop, for June 2014 grads, will be on Tuesday 11 March 2014. Two timeslots — Noon to 1 PM, or 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM. Both happen in the OISE building room 5170, 252 Bloor St W. You can attend either time slot but it is that day only

It is worth also reviewing the information as presented on this detailed page found on OSAP’s own site (and also check out the “repayment calculator”).

But here’s a few key points to think about:

  • The loan is “consolidated” (and repayment begins) 6 months after you cease being a full time student. Just before that happens you will receive a letter outlining the terms (though make sure your current address is known).
  • Calling the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) is incredibly useful to discuss terms and ask questions: 1-888-815-4514. If repayment is a cause of concern or worry, there are some options you can pursue to lighten the load for a time. Do not be shy about calling them.

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upcoming scholarships i: innis awards

4 April 2014 is the deadline for a number of Innis-based awards requiring applications. Check to see the sketch of what is out there.

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The spring is the season for several Innis-based scholarships that require an application. The vast majority of these are leadership awards – awards that recognize volunteer extracurricular contributions to communities, whether at Innis, on campus, or off. The deadline across the board is Friday 4 April 2014, 4:30 PM, to apply for the awards below.

graduating students

If you are graduating there are a number of leadership awards available to you:

  • Innis College Recognition Awards
  • Innis Graditude Scholarship
  • Wasser Achievement Awards
  • Wasser Leadership Scholarships
  • Mary Ann Duffy Graduating Student Award

One application serves all.

returning students

First of all, returning students also have a slate of leadership awards they can apply for, all in one application:

  • Innis College Alumni Scholarship
  • Edward Moss Davidson and Hilda Ruth Rous Davidson Scholarship
  • Edward Moss Davidson and Hilda Ruth Rous Davidson OSOTF Award
  • Harold Innis Foundation Prize
  • Wasser Achievement Awards
  • Wasser Leadership Awards
  • Innis College GRADitude OSOTF II Award
  • Audrey Perry Student Life Award

Note that two of the awards – the ones with “OSOTF” in the name – also need a grant application filled out, mainly to show that you are receiving OSAP, or that you are an Ontario Resident who can demonstrate financial need.

Another more specialized award for returning students is the Hungarian Helicon OSOTF Award, which requires not only a grant application but the submission of an original academic work that engages with themes/issues associated with Hungary.

grad or returning

You may have already noticed that the Wasser Awards above actually can be earned by graduating students and returning students. But there is also another special leadership award – one that recognizes long term contributions to residence life. The M. “Fuzz” Friend Memorial Award has a separate application and it is here.

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upcoming scholarships ii: u of t, not innis

I can’t claim it is comprehensive, but here’s a few hits on some scholarships you might want to keep an eye on.

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There are other awards that come out of the University – some are based University-wide and some come from the larger Faculty of Arts and Science. Here’s a few deadlines, and awards related to them.

31 January through 30 June 2014

University of Toronto Award Competitions are compiled on the Enrolment Services website (along with many other links which we’ll also reproduce below). There’s a wide range of awards here and some of them may not apply to undergraduate students — so scope them out carefully and see if you can shortlist any that might apply to you. Links in the table let you click through to discrete pages on specific awards.

15 March 2014

The Faculty of Arts and Science has a particular series of awards linked by a shared deadline — 15 March 2014. Here too you will want to look around and see if any might apply to you.

And just to give you something to bookmark, here’s feed pages for these listings and some other resources for on-campus awards:

As an aside, if you want to widen your search even more, two websites can offer some leads for awards and funding that do not have a U of T base:

Ultimately, searching for scholarship could be an never-ending process of research. Use compilation sites like these, but also don’t hesitate to make inquiries anywhere you may have a connection, whether academic (departments, professors) or personal (workplaces, unions, non-profits).

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Tax Tips

A quick sketch of Tax resources to help you as we approach 30 April 2014, and a small gloss of the various things you might need and deploy when doing your taxes – or even what might be used by your parents for their taxes.

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You may be already asking why do taxes at all, especially if you are guessing (and in many cases, correctly) that you do not have enough income to actually owe any taxes. The Government of Canada gives the fine details of who is expected to file taxes, but they also indicate a few reasons why you’d want to — and it boils down, in many cases, to the opportunity to claim a refund, or GST/HST refund cheques. It is also good practice and gets certain things on record like RRSP contribution limits, which can carry over.

International students may also be obliged to file taxes, and, similarly, may get some benefit out of it.

The campus has a few services to help students with their taxes, and students can also use online tax software free. So here, I will quickly identify some paperwork you may have for your taxes, and help you find good tax clinics.

paperwork you may have

  • T2202A form – This form is loaded up on ROSI as a PDF, and is a form needed by the Government of Canada to indicate what months in a calendar year you were full or part time, and the applicable tuition you paid for the same time period. It generates a credit either for the student directly, or for the students’ parents if it is passed on to them.
  • T4 slip – This form is sent to you to represent employment income for the calendar year in question. You are also expected to report any income, including occasional earnings and tips, on your tax return even if there is no T4 slip to represent it.
  • T4A slip – This form, for a student, usually represents grants, awards, scholarships, fellowships and RESP funding. For undergraduate students in a bachelor’s degree program, it is not taxable, but is still included in the information and in your tax return.

possible credits and deductions

  • Tuition, Education and Textbook Amounts – This is what the T2202A form will yield for you, or to your parents if you choose to transfer some of these credits. The education credit is $400/month of full time study, $120/month for part time study; textbook credits is $65/month FT, $20/month PT.
  • Transit – You can claim credit for the cost of public transit passes bought in 2013 that are monthly or longer duration. You can also claim the cost of shorter duration passes if each pass entitles you to unlimited travel for an uninterrupted period of at least 5 days and you purchase enough of these passes so that you are entitled to unlimited travel for at least 20 days in any 28-day period. Also, you can claim the cost of electronic payment cards when used to make at least 32 one-way trips during an uninterrupted period not exceeding 31 days.
  • Student Loan Interest Payments – If you’re paying back a student loan, you’ll be glad to know that, starting in 1998, students and former students can claim a 17% non-refundable federal tax credit on the interest they pay on their student loans. You can also carry forward these amounts and apply them to any tax return in the next five years – and this might be a good idea if you have no tax to pay this year.
  • Canada Employment Credit – You can claim the lesser of: $1,117; or, total reported income.
  • Moving Expenses – If you moved 40 km or more for school, in theory you can obtain a deduction, but it is only usable against any taxable scholarship/bursary/grant/fellowship income. Since for most students, none of that is taxable, it has a good chance of not applying. There is also, though, a deduction possible if you move for work.
  • Child Care Expenses - If you paid someone to look after your child, you should review this possible claim.

resources

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