Devon, 28

OSAP has been a nightmare. I am 6 years behind my peers, struggling to pay for part time studies while still being able to buy groceries and pay rent. Most of my peers are in residencies.. me? I'm working course by course toward an undergrad that I could never afford to take full time. I sit on a mountain of debt because in 2011-2012, I had the audacity to earn $21,000. It paid my rent of $600 a month, my groceries, my transportation, and I was lucky enough to be able to afford my textbooks on my own for the first time in my life. OSAP decided I was making too much, suspended me, ordered me to prove that I didn't earn as much as they thought I had, and as it was my 2nd "overpayment" the first one being $300, I now owed them $4000. Fastforward to 2016, I have proven to them that the amounts earned were not earned during the periods they believed they were.. with the help of the Ontario Ombudsman, the Human Rights Tribunal, and an unrelenting ability to not give up and let bureaucracy steam roll me, I am now entitled to OSAP again, but, since I am part time, don't qualify right now. I am terrified that they will say I earn too much based on contract employment I've taken, but, am hoping to make the transition back to full time studies. This program is defective. It is punitive. It needs to decide whether it is a social program or a loan broker; because me paying back a system that actively seeks to punish me for earning enough to survive, accusing me of defrauding the government, treating me like they are doing me a favour AND THEN expects me to pay them back at prime plus 2.5%, sounds like a state-run bank out of straight out of 1984. Please fix this system, NDP... you are the only hope we have! What would I do if I were debt free? I would finish my studies, without having to worry that I will also have to work full time and then some just to pay tuition. I would use my down time to be involved in my university and community much more so that I can contribute to the health care system that I've been a part of despite the obstacles thrown my way, and want to grow into much more. I would spend more time studying and less time working myself to the bone and finally catch up with my peers from the lag, and grief that "MAESD" (a 💩 by any other name, would still smell of stink) has caused me.

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