The average cost of undergraduate tuition fees in Toronto is $7,400 a year, before factoring in meal plans, residence fees, and the cost of textbooks. Tuition has tripled since 1993, according to Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and these costs are expected to rise to $9,541 by 2018. Students in Ontario pay the highest university fees in the country, and have for seven years.
Newfoundland has the lowest cost of tuition in the country and has furthered its student aid by introducing need based grants instead of offering students loans. Rajean Hoilett, the chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, believes Ontario should follow suit. “Ontario needs to see a government that will commit to reducing tuition fees,” he said.
Mariam Jammal, a third-year student at U of T, was not at all surprised to hear that Ontario has the highest tuition rate in Canada. “I think there needs to be much more funding to universities in order to alleviate the cost for students, especially because so many of us end up having to split our time and focus between our education and holding down jobs, even with [OSAP].”
Currently, Ontario offers full-time undergraduate students whose families make under $160,000 a 30 per cent tuition reduction. However, this is not offered to part-time students, nor to students who do not attend university within four years of finishing their high school education.
According to Bonnie Patterson, the CEO and chairperson of the Council of Ontario Universities, Ontario has “one of the most generous financial support programs in the country,” and “you have to look at both sides of the equation.”
Stella Pock, a fourth-year student at U of T, is more understanding of the rising fees. “Ontario must have their reasons for why they keep their loans [this] way. It’s either that there are many people who can afford these fees, or that they simply have more things to spend money on.” Stella is not surprised with Ontario’s high tuition rate, “especially since U of T is renowned, it makes sense that administration would increase tuition further, simply because they can.”