emergency financial help

There is provision at the University of Toronto to provide funding to students to help alleviate financial stress and help avoid the possibility that a student would not be able to attend school at all.

Such help all proceeds on one first assumption which is that students have tapped into the usual resources available to them (or expected of them) before accessing special grants. For example, for domestic students, government loans like OSAP.

We look at three kinds of general grant categories applicable first, then talk briefly about international students.

UTAPS
“University of Toronto Advance Planning for Students” is the overall name of a program where the University diverts considerable funds to programs to help students in need and enable them to attend university. For most students, they experience UTAPS as a fund of grants that is given to students as a credit right onto ROSI, usually in early November. Students typically qualify for UTAPS in one of two ways:

  1. Based on OSAP’s assessment formula, there is “unmet need”. That is, OSAP calculates a student needs a specific dollar amount that is higher than what OSAP actually can give. If it is at least a $500 difference, UTAPS kicks in.
  2. (A specialized version of above.) If a student is receiving sizeable OSAP but pays higher than normal, deregulated tuition – tuition higher than what OSAP covers – UTAPS likely kicks in monies to represent the difference between deregulated and “regular” tuition, often dollar for dollar. This is critical to students getting a lot of OSAP and studying Commerce or Computer Science.

Note – Students receiving a loan from another province can also be considered for UTAPS but it requires a paper application picked up, filled in, and delivered to Enrolment Services as early as possible once the student has an assessment. OSAP recipients are automatically considered.

Innis Emergency Grants
Innis College has a modest fund to help students in individual financial stress during a Fall/Winter Session. Students can apply anywhere from early September to late March by using a U of T Grant Application.

The best process is this: you start by making an appointment with the Financial Aid Counselor at Innis College, who may help you revise or even begin the grant application. Once the application is done, it is taken before the Bursary Sub-Committee of the College. This committee, made of students and staff, review the case while your identity is kept hidden, and they assess the case based on the budget and the special circumstances of your case outlined by the Financial Aid Officer.

The committee takes seriously two things: did a student tap into all the funds they could, whether family or OSAP/governmental; and, are the student’s expenses reasonable.

A student should not feel shy about applying or at least making an appointment, because it sometimes can make a huge difference, not only because you might receive a grant, but the application process may also give ideas on how to save money and control expenses.

Note: there are no bursaries at Innis for the Summer session. A student is expected to work and save in the summer unless they can, without a doubt, afford summer school and still have money for the next Fall/Winter.

Other Grants
Keep an eye out for other grant programs that may exist at the University – one, for example, is the “book bursary” that helps out a bunch of students every year, a bursary coordinated between the U of T bookstore at the University of Toronto Students’ Union. Other divisions of the University (Accessibility Services, First Nations House, Centre for International Experience) may also have bursary programs tied to the services they offer or the students they serve to help defray costs. If you aren’t sure – ask!

International Students
International students have a tough time tapping into financial aid resources at the University. It stems, in a basic sense, from the fact that in obtaining a visa to study in Canada, international students are required to demonstrate and assure that they already have sufficient funds to meet the financial obligations of that study.

That means not only that UTAPS and Innis Bursaries are out of reach, but even scholarships that require financial need may be hard to obtain – and in some cases impossible if they are “OSOTF” or related awards, that specifically demand Ontario residency and Canadian citizenship/permanent residency.

That said, if you are an international student and a sudden and unexpected financial crisis occurs while studying here, you can approach the Financial Aid Counselor to work on a special grant application to be considered by a special committee at Enrolment Services. They do not give out many such bursaries but they can sometimes help in one-time-only scenarios where something unexpected has affected a student’s expected financial resources.

Note too that international students in some cases may be able to research any loans or educational funding available from the home country. For example, students from the United States may sometimes avail themselves of special federal loan programs if they qualify.