I’m not usually a betting man, but in the last week I reached a critical point in terms of funding my grad school habit and I had to reconsider some options I had previously ruled out.
On the 7th of September, I received a nasty surprise by email: tuition for nursing school is literally on an order of magnitude higher than I was originally billed. At first, I thought that they were charging me tuition twice—once for my bioethics MA and once for my nursing MSc(A). I went in to the Service Point office to double-check, and it turns out that the tuition fee was accurate. It’s going to cost me about $11,000 for nursing school for this year, when you put together all the tuition, fees, books, uniforms and equipment.
So I went in to McGill student services to see what my options were and if there was anything that they could do to help me. The woman at the desk told me to make an appointment by email. I emailed and McGill student aid actually declined to meet with me to discuss my situation. They no longer respond to my emails.
So at first I panicked, and considered dropping out of the programme just because I couldn’t afford it: I didn’t have the money, I had no prospects of getting a TA-ship or an RA-ship, and I had no collateral for a bank loan. You might be asking yourself, what about the student loans you got in previous years? Why not get another one of those?
It’s true. In years past, in order to make ends meet, I did successfully apply to OSAP for a student loan. I did not apply this year because in October of last year, OSAP sent me a letter indicating that they would not send me any more loans until I sent them a payment of $2222. They did this because I was offered my RA-ship after I had already received my student loan for last year. (For the record, last year they sent me about $5000 to live on for the whole year.) So when I told them that I had an RA-ship after all, they decided that they overpaid me by $2222.
Up until September 7th, it appeared that my tuition would be roughly the same as last year, so I didn’t think it was rational to apply for OSAP: if it would take a $2222 payment just to apply, and they only sent me $5000 last time, it’s entirely possible that I would receive a loan for no more money (or possibly less) than I spent to apply.
Then September 7th rolled around and I found out how much tuition actually costs, which changed a few variables. Since tuition is so much higher this year than last year, I decided to make the repayment and gamble that OSAP will send me more in loans than I’m expending for the ability to apply.
As it stands now, I have sent in the $2222 and I’m waiting to hear back from them about how much (if any) money they plan on loaning me for this year. The size of the loan will dictate whether or not I stay in school.
What’s really annoying about this whole thing is that OSAP has given me a strong disincentive to accept any upcoming offers of legitimate work for this year. For example, if I am offered an RA-ship, OSAP will hear about it and probably do the same thing as last year—demand that I repay a large sum of money. The harder I work, the less help I get. Frustratingly, if I had just sat on my rear end all summer and burned through my savings rather than working and setting aside money for school, I would actually be much less stressed about whether or not I have enough money to make it through the school year.
Anyone need a kidney? Lightly used—like new! Still in original packaging.