As time marches on, it becomes increasingly important for any new people entering the workforce to have a community college diploma or university degree before they can even hope to get an entry level position that might lead to a decent job. So if your goal is to not end up cleaning the corridors of buildings late at night as your career, you need to go to college or university. The trouble is, not everyone's parents can afford to send them. If you're in the same boat, you can turn to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

OSAP's mission is to make sure that everyone who is qualified to go to a college or university isn't prevented from going just because they can't afford it. OSAP works in connection with the federal student assistance program to fill any gaps that may exist between your family's ability to fund your education and your expenses as a student. You may not get your entire education paid for, but you can get help with tuition, books, living expenses, and even child care while you're going to school at one of the programs OSAP recognizes.

There are a variety of ways to receive assistance through OSAP, because unlike a regular student loan program, it's also a clearing house for various bursaries, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities, so you can apply for everything you might be even remotely eligible for in one application. If you get a grant or a bursary you get it free and clear, but most people fund their tuition through loans, which must be paid back upon graduating or dropping out.

Though OSAP is designed so that everyone can have access to financial aid for college, the reality is that not everyone will be approved. You must meet certain requirements regarding citizenship, credit history, and criminal record to receive aid, so if you or your family declared bankruptcy, or lived in another country, you may not be able to get aid. Your school and program also have to be on OSAP's approved list.

Many student loan programs will disqualify you if you are only studying part time, are participating in a work-study program, or are attending graduate school, but you can get aid for any one of these activities through OSAP. So whether you want to be a real estate agent or a doctor, we urge you to look into getting funding assistance through OSAP. If you have a disability, have dependents, maintain excellent grades, are an orphan or belong to a low income family, you increase your chances of getting funding you don't have to pay back.

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