How to get OSAP

Female student at universityHow to apply for money that can help you pay for a college or university education.

What is OSAP

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) offers two kinds of money:

  • grants: money you don’t have to pay back
  • a student loan you need to repay

Both the Ontario government and federal government provide this money.

Through one OSAP application, you have access to a mix of different financial aid programs, depending on your circumstances. 

If you apply for OSAP, you are automatically considered for 30% Off Ontario Tuition, too. You don’t need to apply separately.

You can get OSAP to attend a public or private postsecondary school located anywhere in the world, as long as it’s approved for OSAP.

See an A-Z list of aid programs

Find out if a school is approved for OSAP

OSAP definitions

If you’re not sure about any of the terms related to OSAP, please check out the OSAP definitions page. 

Read: OSAP definitions

Who is eligible

OSAP is open to Ontario residents who are a:

  • Canadian citizen
  • permanent resident or
  • protected person

When determining if you're eligible, the government considers:

  • your status (e.g., married or a dependent student)
  • the school you attend/will attend (a school needs to be approved for OSAP)
  • program of study
  • course load (full or part-time)
  • study period
  • academic progress
  • education expenses
  • you and your family’s financial contribution

You may not be eligible for OSAP if you:

  • have defaulted on a student loan
  • failed a credit check
  • declared bankruptcy
  • are an international student

Read: other reasons you may not be eligible for OSAP

Search: schools approved for OSAP

Definition: Ontario resident

How much can I get

The amount of money you can get depends on:

Your education expenses: the amount of money you need to cover tuition, books, child care, personal living expenses, supplies and equipment. 

Your personal financial situation: how much you and your family are expected to contribute, based on income and other factors.

If you receive social assistance, you must speak to your caseworker about your educational plans and OSAP funding.

Your course load: full or part-time.

The basic formula is:

Allowed education expenses – money you’re expected to contribute = financial need

Maximum amount

The maximum amount you can get depends on your circumstances. 

For one academic year (two terms) for a typical, full-time student:

  • single, no dependents: $12,240
  • married or common-law or sole-support parent: $19,040

Read on: maximum OSAP amounts

Online tool: estimate OSAP amount

Ontario Student Access Guarantee

If OSAP doesn’t cover all of the expenses that directly relate to your program (books, tuition, mandatory fees) – and you still need money - public colleges and universities in Ontario have to provide financial help.

This money could include:

  • bursaries
  • scholarships
  • work study programs
  • summer employment programs

In a program you can enter straight from high school? You’re automatically considered for this guarantee, based on the information in your OSAP application.

Graduate/professional students (e.g., law, medicine): you will need to apply to your school’s financial aid office.

When to apply

Apply early. You can apply even before you are accepted to your program. But remember: there are deadlines.

What you need to apply

Step 1: know if you plan to study full- or part-time

You need to apply for OSAP as either a full- or part-time student. 

Full-time students = taking 60% or more of a full course load.

Part-time students = taking 20-59% of a full course load.

Students with a permanent disability:

  • 60%+ of a full course load = full-time student
  • 40-59% of a full course load = either full- or part-time student (you choose)
  • 20-39% of a full course load = part-time student.

Step 2: know the special circumstances that give you access to more aid

You could be eligible for additional money if you are:

  • an Aboriginal student
  • a student with a permanent disability
  • a youth with Crown ward status
  • receiving social assistance
  • the first in your family to go to college or university

OSAP for students in special circumstances

Step 3: decide if you need one or more application(s)

You need to fill out 1 application for each:

  • study period
  • school program

Examples:

  • 2 or 3 back-to-back terms at same school, same program = 1 application
  • 1 term at school, 1 term away from school, then another term back at school = 2 separate applications
  • 2 programs at 1 school = 2 separate applications
  • 1 program at school A, another at school B = 2 separate applications
  • 1 program at school A, the same program at school B = 2 separate applications

Total number of applications allowed: up to 5 per student (per academic year).

Returning students: fill out the shorter, renewal application.

Step 4: talk to your parent(s) and/or spouse – they may need to provide information

On the application, your parent(s) and/or spouse may need to:

  • provide their personal information (e.g., name, address)
  • state their annual income
  • sign a declaration and signature page

Step 5: know the deadlines

The online applications will let you know about all of the OSAP deadlines.

Full-time Application deadline: submit your OSAP application no later than 60 days before the end of your study period.

Supporting documentation deadline: your financial aid office must receive your supporting documents (e.g., signature and declaration pages, etc.) no later than 40 days before the end of your study period.

Review deadline: Your financial aid office must receive any review request no later than 40 days before the end of your study period.

Definition: Study period

I started more than one OSAP application. What do I do once I know which school I’m going to attend?

How to apply

Online – it’s the fastest way.

It's important to be accurate. Any changes you need to make after you submit your application need to be done in person at your school's financial aid office.

Step 1: apply

To apply online, you need to:

  1. go to the application website
  2. log in or register for an OSAP Access Number (OAN) and password
  3. choose the right academic year
  4. choose the right application: full- or part-time student
  5. fill out the application
  6. submit the application online

Step 2: gather all supporting documents

  1. print your personalized forms such as your declaration and signature page (if needed) - sign and date it
  2. print the declaration and signature page for your parent(s) and/or spouse (if needed) - have them sign and date it
  3. if you’re a full-time student, print your lifetime student loan agreement (if needed) - then see Step 3
  4. gather any other supporting documents if needed (e.g., an affidavit)
  5. mail or deliver in-person the documents (except your lifetime student loan agreement) to your school’s financial aid office

You can ask OSAP to mail your declaration pages and lifetime student loan agreement (if needed) to you, but it’s faster to print them yourself.

Step 3: full-time students, mail the lifetime student loan agreement

The lifetime student loan agreement is called a Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA).This agreement is for full-time students only. If you haven’t already submitted this agreement you’ll need to print a copy, sign it, and submit it.

Your online application will tell you if you need to submit the agreement or not.

Learn more: Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA)

You do not submit your MSFAA to your financial aid office.

Instead, you need to:

  • read the terms and conditions
  • complete the form
  • sign and date it
  • bring the first page only (with your signature) to a designated Canada Post outlet
  • show two pieces of valid identification:
    • a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card or government document with your SIN number on it
    • a government-issued photo ID
  • the Canada Post outlet will send your lifetime student loan agreement to the National Student Loans Service Centre

How do I find a designated Canada Post outlet?

No access to a Canada Post outlet?

Apply now

Apply online

Download: paper application forms and guides

After you apply

After you apply:

1: OSAP checks your information

OSAP reviews and confirms all of the information on your application.

Methods of verification
Type of information Verified with:
Social Insurance Number and personal identification information Employment and Social  Development Canada
Credit history/rating A credit reporting agency (e.g., Equifax)
Vehicles and Ontario driver’s licence information Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Income (yours, a parent’s or spouse) Canada Revenue Agency
Your government income
  • Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • Second Career Program

If information is missing or invalid on your OSAP application:

  • your application could be put on hold
  • OSAP could ask you to clarify certain information
  • your financial award could be re-assessed

2: OSAP verifies income

OSAP always verifies:

  • your income information
  • your parent(s) and/or spouse’s income

If the information on your application differs from Canada Revenue Agency records, your OSAP could be re-assessed.

If this happens:

  • your next installment of money could change
  • you could have to repay money you’ve already received (called an overpayment) before you can receive more OSAP funding

Full-time students: you can update your income again before the second term starts. You will get an email to remind you and tell you how to do this.

3: OSAP contacts your school

OSAP will connect with your school to:

  • verify program information and costs (e.g., start/end dates, tuition fees)
  • confirm that you have enrolled and started classes

4: OSAP gets back to you

OSAP:

  • determines if you are eligible
  • calculates your money
  • updates your status online
  • lets you know if you are – or are not – getting money

Check your application status

Online

When a change is made, it takes about a day to update your status online.

Full-time students

You can get an email reminder to let you know:

  • a change has been made
  • information is incomplete
  • how much money you’ve qualified for
  • how and when you will get your money

Paper

If you requested paper notifications from OSAP, it could take a few weeks to reach you — online is faster.

To change your preference for OSAP notifications: log in and update your profile information through “Email & Correspondence Options” on the left navigation bar.

As a full-time student, you can also check your status on your smartphone.

Can someone else check my OSAP for me?

What if my financial or personal status changes?

Get your money

Full-time students

You will usually get money in 2 installments:

  • the first when you begin your studies (usually in September)
  • the rest halfway through your study period (usually in January)

With OSAP Express, it’s easier to get your money:

  • money is directly deposited into your bank account
  • you only sign a lifetime student loan agreement once to cover the full course of your studies
  • you can renew, faster
  • your school can verify your enrollment online a lot quicker

How do I change my bank account information with OSAP?

Can I ask for a review or appeal my assessment?

Part-time students

You will be given two documents from your financial aid office to get your money:

  • your part-time funding certificate
  • a part-time loan agreement form

You need to:

  • read the terms and conditions
  • complete the two forms
  • sign and date them
  • bring the documents to a designated Canada Post outlet
  • show two pieces of valid identification:
    • a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card or government document with your SIN number on it
    • a government-issued photo ID
  • the Canada Post outlet will send your certificate and loan agreement to the National Student Loans Service Centre

I can’t get to a designated Canada Post outlet and I need to submit a part-time OSAP funding certificate.

Updated: September 10, 2014