Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 9: On OSAP and provincial weirdness

Today was remarkable in that it was just so inexplicable.

I started out by going to work, doing pick-ups, sorting, loans desk... the usual, punctuated by looking up photos of the aftermath of yesterday's McTavish Reservoir overflow. But then, at the end of work, I had to rush to the bus station to take an impromptu, emergency trip to Ottawa. Why?, you may ask. That is the topic of today's lessons!

As a University student, I have never been eligible for OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program), for various wild, wacky and highly bureaucratic reasons. However, now that I'm not even attending school in Ontario, I am eligible just by virtue of the fact I've been out of high school for just over four years. Which brings us to our first lesson.

Lesson 10) Check your student aid eligibility yearly. You never know when something that didn't seem terribly relevant to you will all of a sudden be the biggest deal to those providing possible aid.

As I have never been eligible, but tried to apply once upon a time, I had an account with OSAP but didn't have any of the details to access it. I know now that because I'd never successfully submitted an application, they didn't even have a name associated with my account. Regardless, they wanted me to go into a financial aid office in person to gain access to my account. But as a cross-provincial student (ie/ an Ontario resident living and going to school in Quebec), this is where our next lesson comes from.

Lesson 11) Provincial student aid organizations are really bad at sharing. If you go to an out-of-province school, anything you do through your own school's financial office will take infinitely longer to process. Getting your account number and password, for instance, is instantaneous at an in-province institution even if it's one you do not and have never attended (such as, in my case, the University of Ottawa) but if done through your own, out-of-province institution would take up to 6 weeks to process. All because you're working across provincial borders. Therefore... Bonus lesson: Deal with all provincial student aid questions while you're home, even if the closest University is one you have never had any interaction with.

Ya..... today really was a three lesson day. And I didn't even have class!

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