OSAP definitions

A collection of common OSAP terms and their definitions.

Academic year

For OSAP the academic year runs from August 1 to July 31 of the following year. The date your study period begins determines which academic year application you need to use to apply.

For example, the “2015-2016 academic year” for OSAP is based on a study period that starts anytime between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016.

Some programs, such as the Continuation of Interest-Free Status program, are not academic-year specific and do not have academic-year specific applications.

Academic upgrading program

Examples of academic upgrading programs include:

  • upgrading to high school equivalency
  • English- or French-as-a-second-language
  • literacy and basic skills
  • academic and career entrance
  • pre-university programs


An affidavit is a document where the contents have been sworn or affirmed to be true.

It is sworn and signed before:

  • a lawyer
  • a person who is not a lawyer but who is a commissioner of oaths or
  • a notary public

A commissioner of oaths is usually available at:

  • courthouses
  • community legal clinics
  • municipal or township offices, or
  • law offices

Bankruptcy or related events

If you started a bankruptcy or a related event, this means you’ve acted under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada). You have:

  • filed for bankruptcy
  • made a consumer proposal
  • obtained a consolidation order, or
  • filed a document seeking relief for the orderly payment of debts

Discharged bankrupt

You’re a discharged bankrupt if you:

  • file for bankruptcy and
  • have obtained an “absolute order of discharge” from the court

Undischarged bankrupt

You're an undischarged bankrupt if you:

  • filed for bankruptcy and that process has not been completed, withdrawn, annulled or
  • you did not obtain an “absolute order of discharge” from the court


A bursary is financial aid that isn’t a loan and that you typically don’t have to pay back. A bursary is usually awarded based on financial need and other factors.

Compulsory fees

Compulsory fees are fees charged at your postsecondary school for education-related costs such as:

  • co-op fees
  • student activity fees
  • athletic fees
  • health services
  • student union fees
  • laboratory fees
  • field placement
  • technology (excluding computer purchase or lease fees)
  • professional fees

OSAP does not consider the following fees compulsory when determining the amount of your aid:

  • confirmation fees
  • parking
  • late registration fees
  • convocation/graduate fees
  • appeal fees
  • fees for duplicate diplomas, ID cards, and/or fee receipts
  • transcript fees
  • special tests and/or exam fees (these costs may be allowed under professional/exam fees)
  • local public transportation fees

Common-law relationship

For OSAP, you’re living in a common-law relationship if you and your spouse:

  • have cohabitated continuously for a period of at least 3 years or
  • are in a relationship of some permanence and are the natural or adoptive parents of a child

Course load

Your course load is the number of courses or credits you’re taking.

For OSAP, your course load is expressed as a percentage of a full course load.

For example, if a full course load for your program is 5 courses and you’re taking 3 courses, that’s 60% of a full course load. Your school determines the number of courses or credits that make up a 100% course load.

Contact your financial aid office if you need help determining your course load percentage.

Consumer proposal

A consumer proposal is an offer made by those who owe money (debtors) to those who are owed money (creditors). The proposal is a settlement offer that is usually different from the original contract.

For example, you may offer your creditors:

  • a lower monthly payment over a longer time period
  • a percentage of what you owe

Credit check

If you’re older than 22 and have never received an OSAP student loan the government will conduct a credit check to review your credit history. This is done electronically with a credit reporting agency.

You’ll be notified if you’re ineligible for funding because of a poor credit history.

To pass, you can’t have been delinquent for more than 90 days on 3 or more credit accounts/loans, each with a value of $1,000 or more, within the past 3 years.

Can I appeal a failed credit check?

Crown ward

A Crown ward is a child who is a ward of the Crown following a court order made under the Child and Family Services Act.

Dependent student

NOTE: This definition applies only to the OSAP Application for Full-Time Students

If all of the following are true, you are a dependent student:

  • you’re not married or in a common-law relationship
  • you’re not separated, divorced or widowed
  • you're not a sole-support parent
  • you’ve been out of high school for less than 4 years before the start of your study period
  • you haven’t taken 2 or more breaks from being a full-time high school or postsecondary student that were both at least 12 consecutive months on 2 or more occasions


Not everyone receives the same amount of OSAP. The amount you qualify for is called your entitlement. Your entitlement is based on information

  • you provide on your application
  • from your postsecondary school, and
  • verified with third parties (for example, the Canada Revenue Agency)

Expected financial contributions

OSAP expects that you and your family have planned for your full-time postsecondary education and put aside money to pay for it. The purpose of OSAP is to supplement, not replace your resources.

Your expected financial contribution is the amount of money that OSAP determines that you should have available to pay for your education and living costs. It determines this amount by assessing the following:

  • your marital status
  • number of dependent children you have (if applicable)
  • your income and assets
  • your last period of high school or postsecondary studies
  • your parents’ income, assets, and number of dependent children (if you’re a dependent student)
  • your spouse’s or common-law partner’s income and assets

Financial need

OSAP is a needs-based program. This means that your financial aid for full-time students is based on a formula that compares your education costs with expected financial contributions. The expected financial contributions might come from your parents/spouse and your own income and assets such as a car or RESP.

The formula is:

OSAP allowable educational costs & allowances MINUS Expected Financial Contribution EQUALS Financial Need

OSAP allowable educational costs & allowances

  • tuition and compulsory fees
  • books and supplies
  • equipment
  • computer
  • personal living expenses
  • child care
  • transportation


Expected Financial Contribution

  • student income
  • student assets
  • parental/Spousal income
    (if applicable)
  • spousal assets
    (if applicable)


Calculated Financial Need

First entry program

This is a program you apply for and can enter directly from high school.

A first entry program doesn’t require postsecondary studies as a pre-requisite.

Francophone student

You’re considered a Francophone student if:

  • your mother tongue is French or
  • you studied in French at the elementary or secondary level or
  • you are/were enrolled in a postsecondary program offered at least partially in French

Full-time studies

For OSAP purposes, you’re in full-time studies if you’re taking 60% or more of a full course load. If you have a disability, you may choose to be considered a full-time student if you’re taking at least 40% of a full course load. Your full course load percentage is defined by your school.

Definition: Course load


A grant is a type of aid that is not a loan and that you typically do not have to pay back. A grant is usually awarded based on financial need and/or other factors.

Gross income

Gross income is usually all the money you receive before any taxes or deductions have been subtracted.

Independent student

If you’re applying to OSAP as a full-time student, you’re considered a single independent student if both of the following are true:

  • you’re not currently married or in a common-law relationship
  • you don’t have any dependent children

AND if at least one of the following applies to you:

  • you’ve been out of high school for 4 or more years at the start of your study period
  • for at least 12 consecutive months on 2 or more occasions you were not a full-time student at a high school or postsecondary school (i.e., you were in the labour force on a full-time basis)
  • both your parents are deceased
  • you’re a current Crown ward or were a Crown ward just prior to age 18
  • you’re currently receiving a Continued Care and Support for Youth program allowance (formerly an Extended Care and Maintenance allowance from your Children’s Aid Society)

Definition: Common-law relationship


A loan is money you borrow that must be paid back. With OSAP, you're borrowing the money from the governments of Canada and/or Ontario. When you pay back the loan, you will also be paying any interest on the debt.

With student loans, the interest that adds up while you're in school is paid by the federal and provincial governments. When you finish attending school, the Ontario government pays the interest on your Ontario student loan(s) for the first 6 months. Once the grace period ends, you're responsible for paying the interest on both your Ontario and Canada student loans.

NOTE: You agree to the terms and conditions of the loan when you sign your Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) with OSAP.

What is the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement?

Read the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement

National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC)

The National Student Loans Service Centre administers student loans funded by the federal and/or Ontario governments. This includes:

  • processing your Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA)
  • arranging for your loan and/or grants to be deposited to your bank account
  • keeping track of your loan debt and repayments
  • giving you your repayment schedule
  • administering the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP)

National Student Loans Service Centre

Official sponsor

Your official sponsor is the person in Canada who officially assumes responsibility for your maintenance. Your sponsor either nominated or sponsored you into Canada and has signed an Undertaking with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

Ontario Education Number (OEN)

The nine-digit Ontario Education Number is a student identification number assigned by the Ministry of Education to Ontario elementary and secondary students. This unique number identifies a student's school records and follows the student through elementary and secondary education.

Read more: Ontario Education Number


OSAP stands for the Ontario Student Assistance Program. OSAP is run by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is funded by the provincial and federal governments.

Through OSAP you can apply for assistance as a full-time student or as a part-time student. These applications automatically consider you for funding from several grants, bursaries, and loans. 


There are 2 types of overpayment:

  • A loan overpayment occurs when you receive more loan funding than you should have. This may happen if things change from when you first completed your OSAP application. For example, you take fewer courses than you anticipated or you earn more than expected before you start school.

    Your first loan overpayment will not stop you from getting more funding.  But you do need to repay a second overpayment before you can receive more student aid.

  • A grant/bursary overpayment exists when you receive more grant or bursary funding than you should have. You may be required to repay the overpayment to be eligible for further student aid. Some grant overpayments are converted to a loan to repay.

Part-time studies

For OSAP, you’re in part-time studies if you’re taking between 20% and 59% of a full course load. Your full course load percentage is defined by your school.

Definition: Course load

Permanent disability

For OSAP, a permanent disability is legally defined as a functional limitation:

  • caused by a physical or mental impairment that restricts your ability to perform the daily activities necessary to participate in studies at a postsecondary level or in the labour force and
  • that is expected to remain with you for your expected life

Pre-study period

This is the time period before the start of your full-time study period when you’re expected to work and to make a contribution towards your postsecondary educational costs.

For high school students entering first year: the pre-study period is usually 8 weeks.

For returning postsecondary students after a summer break: the pre-study period is typically 16 weeks.

Protected person

Protected persons can include convention refugees, humanitarian-protected persons abroad, and persons in need of protection.

A protected person is defined in subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).


A scholarship is a type of aid you typically don't have to pay back. A scholarship is usually awarded based on academic merit and other factors.

Second-entry program

Second-entry programs are graduate or professional university programs and some high-demand post-diploma college programs. Examples include law, teaching, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and optometry.

Sole support parent

For OSAP, you’re a sole-support parent if:

  • you have a dependent child or children living with you full-time during your study period and
  • you’re single, separated, divorced or widowed

Study period

For OSAP, the study period is the time period used to determine the amount of OSAP funding you’re eligible to receive for the OSAP academic year. It also determines your deadline dates.

Usually your OSAP study period is the normal school year for your program. It may include one or more terms. Ask your school if you’re unsure about your study period.

Definition: Academic year

Updated: May 1, 2015