Ontario Works & TESS policies and procedures

Post Secondary Educational Institutions - Eligibility

Legislation

This section is an excerpt from the Ontario Works Act, 1997 prescribed by the Province of Ontario.

Eligibility

OW Act

Who receives income assistance

7. (1) Income assistance shall be provided in accordance with the regulations to persons who satisfy all conditions of eligibility under this Act and the regulations.

Who are the beneficiaries

(2) Income assistance shall be provided for the benefit of the eligible person and his or her dependants.

Eligibility for income assistance

(3) No person is eligible for income assistance unless,

(a) the person is resident in Ontario;

(b) the budgetary requirements of the person and any dependants exceed their income and their assets do not exceed the prescribed limits, as provided for in the regulations;

(c) the person and the prescribed dependants provide the information and the verification of information required to determine eligibility including,

(i) personal identification information, as prescribed,

(ii) financial information, as prescribed, and

(iii) any other prescribed information; and

(d) the person and the person's dependants meet any other prescribed conditions relating to eligibility.

OW Regs

9. No single person who is in full-time attendance at a post-secondary educational institution is eligible for assistance if the person,

(a) is in receipt of a loan under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or the Canada Student Loans Act;

(b) is not eligible for a loan under one of those Acts because of the level of parental income, as determined under that Act; or

(c) is not eligible for a loan under one of those Acts because of a default in the payment of a previous loan under one of those Acts.

Pursuit of other financial resources

OW Act

13. (1) An administrator shall in prescribed circumstances, as a condition of eligibility for basic financial assistance, require an applicant, a recipient, a dependant or a prescribed person to agree to reimburse the administrator for the assistance provided or to be provided.

Same

(2) An agreement under subsection (1) may require an assignment, as prescribed.

Regulations

74. (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

9. respecting the conditions of eligibility for assistance including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(vi) the obligation to obtain compensation or to realize a financial resource,

OW Regs

13. (1) If the administrator is not satisfied that a member of a benefit unit is making reasonable efforts to obtain compensation or realize a financial resource or income that the person may be entitled to or eligible for, the administrator may determine that the person is not eligible for basic financial assistance or reduce the amount of basic financial assistance granted by the amount of the compensation, financial resource or income that in his or her opinion is available or would have been available had reasonable efforts been made to obtain or realize it.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1),

(b) the proceeds of a loan guaranteed under section 8 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or of a loan under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act is a financial resource to which a member of a benefit unit is entitled if the member is in full-time attendance at a post-secondary institution;

Assets

OW Regs

39. (1) For the purpose of section 38, the following are not included as assets:

10. That portion of a student or trainee loan, grant or award approved by the administrator, so long as the person for whose benefit the loan, grant or award is provided remains in attendance in the program of study or training for which it is intended.

14.3. The earnings of, or an amount paid under a training program to, any member of a benefit unit in attendance in a program of study at a post-secondary institution or earned or paid in the 16 weeks preceding attendance if,

i. the member of the benefit unit is enrolled in at least 60 per cent of a full-time course load,

ii. the member of the benefit unit,

A. is enrolled in a program of study approved under section 7 of Ontario Regulation 268/01 (Ontario Student Loans Made After July 31, 2001) made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, or

B. is enrolled in a program of study at an institution approved under section 8 of Ontario Regulation 268/01, that prepares the member of the benefit unit for application for registration by a regulated profession named in Schedule 1 to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006 or for application for registration by a health profession named in Schedule 1 to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991,

iii. the earnings or the amount paid are used for the approved program of study referenced in subparagraph ii, and

iv. the earnings are earned or the amount is paid while the person is a member of a benefit unit that is in receipt of income assistance under the Act or income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997.

Income

OW Regs

49. (1) The following rules apply with respect to the treatment of earnings:

1. The sum of the total amount of gross monthly income from employment, the amounts paid under a training program and net monthly income as determined by the administrator from an interest in or operation of a business shall be reduced by,

(i) the total of all deductions required by law or by the terms of employment that are deductions,

A. from wages, salaries, casual earnings or amounts paid under a training program, and

B. made with respect to income tax, Canada Pension Plan, employment insurance, union dues or pension contributions,

(ii) 50 per cent of the amount by which the total gross monthly income from employment and amounts paid under a training program exceeds the total amount of deductions referred to in subparagraph i,

(iii) Revoked

(iv) child care expenses actually incurred, and not otherwise reimbursed or subject to reimbursement up to the maximum amounts provided in paragraph 2, for each dependent child and for each child on whose behalf temporary care assistance is provided pursuant to section 57 if,

A. the child care expenses are necessary to permit a recipient or a spouse included in the benefit unit or a dependent adult to be employed or to participate in an employment assistance activity,

B. the child care expenses are not paid to a member of the benefit unit, and

C. the recipient has not received reimbursement for the child care expenses through the Child Care Tax Credit under subsection 8 (15.2) of the Income Tax Act.

1.1. For the purposes of subparagraph 1 iv, payments made under section 8.5 of the Income Tax Act shall not be considered reimbursement for child care expenses actually incurred.

2. The maximum amount of child care expenses permitted for each child,

(i) is the actual amount paid, if those expenses are paid to a person licensed under the Day Nurseries Act, and

(ii) otherwise is $600.

3. Subject to paragraph 4, a reduction of income under subparagraph 1 ii shall not be included when income is being determined for the purposes of,

(i) determining whether an applicant is eligible for assistance, or

(ii) determining the amount of assistance payable for the first three months during which an applicant is eligible to receive income assistance.

4. Paragraph 3 does not apply with respect to an application if,

(i) income assistance under the Ontario Works Act, 1997 or income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 was continuously paid for at least three months to the applicant or to another person on behalf of the applicant,

(ii) that assistance or income support was cancelled,

(iii) the effective date of the cancellation was less than six months before the date of the application, and

(iv) on the effective date of the cancellation, the applicant's income included income from employment or amounts paid under a training program.

5. The earnings of a dependent child or the amount paid to a dependent child under a training program shall not be included in income.

6. The earnings of a dependent adult who is attending secondary school full time or the amount paid to such a dependent adult under a training program shall not be included in income.

7. If the calculation relates to temporary care assistance, the earnings of the child in temporary care shall not be included in income.

8. If a person's normal income is reduced because he or she is engaged in a labour dispute, that person shall be deemed to be in receipt of income from employment equal to the amount being received from that source in the month before that person's income was affected by the dispute.

9. If paragraph 8 applies, strike pay up to the amount deemed as income under that paragraph shall not be included as income.

10. The earnings of, or an amount paid under a training program to, any member of a benefit unit in attendance in a program of study at a post-secondary institution or earned or paid in the 16 weeks preceding attendance shall not be included in income if, 

(i) the member of the benefit unit is enrolled in at least 60 per cent of a full-time course load, and

(ii) the member of the benefit unit,

A. is enrolled in a program of study approved under section 7 of Ontario Regulation 268/01 (Ontario Student Loans Made After July 31, 2001) made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, or

B. is enrolled in a program of study at an institution approved under section 8 of Ontario Regulation 268/01, that prepares the member of the benefit unit for application for registration by a regulated profession named in Schedule 1 to the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006 or for application for registration by a health profession named in Schedule 1 to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

11. Subject to paragraph 12, the exemption of earnings or amount paid under a training program under paragraph 10 shall not apply when income is being determined for the purposes of, 

(i) determining whether an applicant is eligible for assistance, or

(ii) determining the amount of assistance payable for the first three months during which an applicant is eligible to receive income assistance.

12. Paragraph 11 does not apply with respect to an application if,

(i) income assistance under the Act or income support under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 was continuously paid for at least three months to the applicant or to another person on behalf of the applicant,

(ii) that assistance or income support was cancelled,

(iii) the effective date of the cancellation was less than six months before the date of the application, and

(iv) on the effective date of the cancellation, the applicant's income included income from employment or amounts paid under a training program.

(2) Revoked

(2.1) Revoked

(3) Revoked

54. (1) The following shall not be included in income:

1. That portion of a loan, approved by the administrator, that is,

iii. guaranteed under section 8 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or made under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act and, in either case, received by or on behalf of a student and relating to tuition, other compulsory fees, books, instructional supplies or transportation for the purpose of the definition of "education costs" in subsection 1 (1) of Regulation 774 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 (Ontario Student Loans made before August 1, 2001) made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or for the purpose of section 11 of Ontario Regulation 268/01 (Ontario Student Loans made after July 31, 2001) made under that Act,

iv. guaranteed under section 8 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or made under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, if, in either case, the proceeds are received by or on behalf of a student who is,

A. a part time student,

B. a dependent adult who is not a spouse included in the benefit unit or a sole support student as defined in subsection 1 (1) of Regulation 774 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990, or

C. a child on whose behalf temporary care assistance is being paid and who is not a sole support student as defined in subsection 1 (1) of Regulation 774 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act,

2. An award or grant made by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to a student enrolled in a post-secondary institution.

2.1 The portion of a grant or award, other than an award or grant under paragraph 2, or loan, other than a loan under subparagraphs 1 iii and iv, that is approved by the administrator for training or post-secondary education and that is or will be applied within a reasonable period to the cost of tuition, other compulsory fees, books, instructional supplies and equipment and transportation, if the person for whose benefit the grant, award or loan is provided is attending or will be attending the training or program of study for which it is intended.

Agreements to reimburse and assignments

OW Regs

15. (1) If money is due and owing or may become due and owing to a member of a benefit unit that, if received, would be or would have been included as income for the purpose of calculating the income assistance payable for the benefit unit, the administrator may require, as a condition of eligibility for basic financial assistance, that the member of the benefit unit or the person authorized to act for that member agree in writing to reimburse all or any part of the assistance paid when the money becomes payable.

(2) An agreement under subsection (1) may include,

(a) a requirement to reimburse assistance paid from the date of the event giving rise to the money being due and owing or becoming due and owing;

(b) an authorization and direction to the person or agency by whom the money is payable to deduct and pay the money directly to the delivery agent; and

(c) an assignment to the delivery agent of the right to be paid the money.

(3) An authorization and direction and assignment made under this section is irrevocable.

(4) If a person who has made an agreement under subsection (1) receives money to which the agreement applies, the person shall reimburse the delivery agent in accordance with the agreement for basic financial assistance paid since the date of the event giving rise to the money being or becoming due or owing.

(5) If the amount reimbursed is attributable to a number of months, the amount reimbursed for each month shall be the lesser of,

(a) that portion of the amount received that is attributable to that month; and

(b) the amount of basic financial assistance for that month.

(6) The agreement to reimburse, the authorization and direction and the assignment ma be retrospective, prospective or both.

(7) Subsection (1) applies with respect to income or capital but does not apply to money that would be exempt as income or assets for the purpose of determining eligibility for basic financial assistance.

(8) A member of a benefit unit is not ineligible for basic financial assistance solely because a person or agency failed to deduct and remit money under an authorization and direction or an assignment made under this section, unless,

(a) the failure to deduct and remit is caused by the member of the benefit unit; or

(b) the member of the benefit unit received the money from the person or agency and failed to remit it to the administrator in accordance with the agreement.

(9) For the purpose of subsection 19 (2) of the Act, the prescribed overpayment amount is the amount that would have been payable to the administrator under an agreement made under subsection (1).

Highlights

As Ontario Works clients have mandatory participation requirements in employment activities, a completed Participation Agreement is necessary for attendance at post-secondary educational institutions. The approval is a local office decision based on OW participation guidelines.

Singles are ineligible for ongoing assistance while in full-time attendance at post-secondary educational institutions.

Sole support parents and two adult families (one or both adults are attending school) may be eligible for ongoing assistance while in approved full-time attendance at post-secondary educational institutions based on chargeable income.

Post-secondary education (full -time or part-time attendance) can be an approved activity or part of approved activities to meet participation requirements

For dependent adults (not the spouse), eligibility for continued social assistance as part of the OW benefit unit will depend on the student category determined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities . Refer to Dependent Adult Living At Home in the package for full details.

Background

Post-secondary education can be an approved activity or part of approved activities to meet participation requirements.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) has the main responsibility for support of students at post-secondary educational institutions. The Ministry of Community and Social Services continues to be responsible for the delivery of social assistance to eligible persons in need.

Generally, all students must access both educational costs and personal living allowances through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Ongoing social assistance eligibility for sole support parents and families will be income based if they are attending approved full-time programs.

Determination for Ongoing Social Assistance

When determining eligibility for ongoing social assistance, attendance at the post-secondary educational institution must be approved for all clients and a financial assessment made for sole support parents and two adult families in full-time attendance.

Attendance at any level of education must be part of an approved Service Plan.

The financial assessment for sole support parents and two adult families in full-time attendance will consist of determining the chargeable OSAP (personal living funds) from Ontario Works (OW) entitlement.

Part-Time Attendance

Part-time study may be a component of full -time activity to meet OW eligibility criteria.

For OW eligibility purposes, part-time attendance will be considered to be less than 60% of a full course load. If a client is taking less than 60% course load, part of the approved Service Plan process must be a discussion why he or she is attending part-time (e.g., finishing degree) and if full-time attendance would be an option to facilitate independence from social assistance.

A student taking less than 60% of a full course load or a student with a disability taking less than 40% of a full course load may apply for a Part-Time Canada Student Loan.

OSAP loans for part-time study and the Special Opportunity Grants for High Need Part-Time Students are exempt as income and assets while the student remains in the course or program for which the loan was intended.

Full-Time attendance

A student attending an educational institution and taking a 60% course load or greater would be considered to be a full-time student and the eligibility provisions for full-time attendance take effect.

All students in full-time attendance at OSAP eligible educational institutions are expected to access personal living allowances from OSAP as part of "pursuing other financial resources".

Singles, in full-time attendance at educational institutions, will be ineligible for ongoing social assistance. Refer to Eligibility Criteria: Full-Time Attendance for further details.

Sole support parents and two adult families, in full-time attendance at educational institutions, will be ineligible for ongoing social assistance upon receipt of personal living funds from OSAP which are in excess of their OW entitlement. Therefore, eligibility for social assistance will be income based and the attendance in courses or programs must be part of the approved Service Plan. Refer to Eligibility Criteria: Full -time Attendance for further details.

Note: Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients are not required to maximize their student loan by applying for personal living costs. They need only apply for a student loan for direct school costs which is exempt as income. However. if they do receive personal living costs, the amount which exceeds allowable educational costs is considered chargeable income.

Eligibility for Earnings and Asset Exemption While Attending a Post-Secondary Educational Institution

Employment earnings (including self-employment) and the amounts paid under a training program can be exempt as income and assets for persons attending a full-time post-secondary educational program. This exemption will benefit participants in receipt of social assistance who undertake full-time post-secondary education as part of their approved service plan to earn and save money to pay for their education.

In order for a member of the benefit unit to be assessed for the post-secondary earnings and asset exemption, the participant must have served the qualifying period or have met the criteria for the grace period.

The earnings exemption will apply to income earned or paid both during the school year and during the pre-study period, defined as a maximum of 16 weeks prior to the start of the study period.

The exemption will apply to any member of a benefit unit. In order to be eligible, a member must:

1. be enrolled in an eligible program of study
2. be taking at least 60 % of a full course load.

Ontario Works (OW) Financial Assessment

After attendance at the education institution is approved as part of the Service Plan, a financial determination for ongoing social assistance will be made.

Chargeable "personal living funds" are determined by exempting the legislative allowable educational expenses from the "total funding entitlement." The total funding entitlement includes Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loans (consists of Ontario Student Loan and Canada Student Loan), grants, bursaries and awards received.

Allowable educational expenses include tuition, compulsory fees, books, instructional supplies, childcare and transportation costs.

For purposes of social assistance, a chargeable living allowance is calculated as follows:

Total funding entitlement - actual direct education costs = living allowance

For students who are in receipt of a special purpose payment, a chargeable living allowance is calculated as follows:

Total funding entitlement (excluding special purpose payment) - actual direct education costs = living allowance

The following payments are considered special purpose payments specifically for Crown Wards:

  • Living and Learning Grant
  • 100% Tuition Aid for Youth Leaving Care Program (the portion of the funds provided by the school).

Once the living allowance has been calculated, it is then divided by the number of school months in order to determine the monthly chargeable deduction from social assistance.

Types of Available Federal and Provincial Funding

  • Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan (consists of Ontario Student Loan (OSL) and Canada Student Loan (CSL)
  • Canada Study Grant (CSG) - Canada Study Grant for Full Time Students With Dependants
  • Canada Access Grant for Students from Low-income Families (for first-year students)
  • Millennium Ontario Access Grant (for first-year students)
  • Ontario Access Grant (for second-year students)
  • Canada Study Grant for the Accommodation of Students with Permanent Disabilities
  • Canada Access Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
  • Child Care Bursary - Sole support parents and two adult families, with children 12 years and under, may apply for assistance with child care costs. This Bursary is non-chargeable income for OW purposes.
  • Ontario Special Bursary - The bursary covers educational expenses only (no living expenses). This Bursary is non-chargeable income for OW purposes.
  • Canada Millennium Bursary
  • Textbook and Technology Grant
  • Ontario Distance Grant (Commuting Grant or Travel Grant)
  • Ontario Access Grants for Crown Wards
  • Student loans from other provinces

Social assistance recipients applying for OSAP funding receive two forms from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) regarding their OSAP eligibility.

  • OSAP Assessment Summary (OAS) Form, and
  • OSAP Notice of Assessment/Reassessment Form.

Social assistance recipients must provide a copy of their student loan assessment(s) and/or any other documentation in order for the caseworker to determine full or part-time attendance and to calculate the "living allowance" for social assistance purposes. Documentation includes but is not limited to:

  • OSAP Assessment Summary (OAS) Form
  • OSAP Notice of Assessment/Reassessment Form
  • Official letters/notices from the provincial government, the federal government or an educational institution communicating information about a student loan, grants, awards or bursaries a student has been assessed to receive.

Eligibility Criteria:  Full-Time Attendance

Single Person

  • A course of education or program of training cannot be approved as part of the Service Plan if the course or program is funded under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or the Canada Student Loan Act.
  • Ineligible for OW if did not apply for OSAP as not pursuing other financial resources.
  • Ineligible for OW if in receipt of a loan under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or the Canada Student Loan Act.
  • Ineligible for OW if not eligible for a loan under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or the Canada Student Loan Act due to a default in the payment of a previous loan under these Acts.
  • Ineligible for OW if not eligible for a loan under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act or the Canada Student Loan Act due to parental income.
  • Ineligible for supplemental OW if attending high tuition courses or programs that leave little or no living expenses.
  • Any duplicate assistance is recoverable either through the Assignment Process or by reimbursement by the client.

Two Adult Family (One or Both Attending School)

  • Ineligible for OW if did not apply for OSAP as not pursuing other financial resources.
  • If the course of education or program of training is approved as part of the "reasonable efforts" and is part of the approved Service Plan to meet eligibility criteria, then a financial assessment is to be made.
  • The amount for personal living funds is to be prorated over the length of the course.
  • Any duplicate assistance is recoverable either by deductions from ongoing assistance, by the Assignment Process or by the client directly.
  • OSAP funds are not considered liquid assets while the student remains in the course or program for which the loan was intended.

Sole Support Parent

  • Ineligible for OW if did not apply for OSAP as not pursuing other financial resources.
  • If the course of education or program of training is approved as part of the "reasonable efforts" and is part of the approved Service Plan to meet eligibility criteria, then a financial assessment is to be made.
  • The amount for personal living funds is to be prorated over the length of the course.
  • Any duplicate assistance is recoverable either by deductions from ongoing assistance, by the Assignment Process or by the client directly.
  • OSAP funds are not considered liquid assets while the student remains in the course or program for which the loan was intended.

Dependant Adult Living at Home

  • This refers to a dependent adult of OW clients(s).
  • The course of education or program of training must be approved as part of the "reasonable efforts" and is part of the approved Service Plan to meet eligibility criteria. However, consideration is given with dependent adults to attend post-secondary educational institutions.
  • If Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities assesses the dependent adult as "single dependent living at home", he or she will not be eligible to receive personal living expenses from OSAP. The student will be assessed for tuition, other compulsory fees, books or instructional supplies. In addition the student may receive "At home living allowance". However, this is considered non-chargeable income. He or she may remain as part of the benefit unit for social assistance purposes.
  • OSAP funds are not considered liquid assets while the student remains in the course or program for which the loan was intended.

Eligibility Determination Process if Delay in Receipt of OSAP

Singles are ineligible for ongoing social assistance once in receipt of OSAP.

If their Service Plans are approved, sole support parents and two adult parents will have their eligibility for ongoing social assistance assessed on an income determination once in receipt of OSAP.

There may be situations where there are delays in receipt of OSAP. During a delay in receipt of OSAP, each application for OW must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If the decision is made to grant assistance pending receipt of OSAP, the caseworker should advise the client that this issuance is recoverable assistance. Duplicate assistance can be repaid by deductions from ongoing assistance, by the Assignment Process or by the client directly.

Failure to reimburse duplicate assistance will result in an overpayment of the OW.

Active clients may receive their OW assistance for the month in which school starts as OSAP is not available until the day classes/school starts. However, if there is a delay in receipt of OSAP and further assistance is required, this would be duplicate assistance and would be recoverable.

Students are expected to access any emergency funds available through the educational institution during the academic school year prior to applying to OW. They should check with the institution's Financial Aid Office (FAO) regarding that institution's policies and emergency funds.

As for all persons applying for assistance, OW eligibility must be made based on legislative requirements (e.g., identification, assets, income etc.) and, in addition, the determination of reason for delay of OSAP.

Summary

Eligibility

  • attendance at educational institutions may meet participation requirements

Pursuit of Other Financial Resources

  • all persons must apply for personal living allowances and educational costs through OSAP. Refer to Full-Time Attendance for details.

Not Considered as Income

  • Employment earnings (including self-employment) and the amounts paid under a training program can be exempt for persons attending full-time post-secondary school if the eligibility criteria are met.
  • OSAP received for part time attendance.
  • OSAP received by dependent adults, excluding spouses, of OW participants who are considered "single dependent living at home" by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
  • Any bursary granted by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (includes Ontario Special Bursary and Child Care Bursary)

Not Considered as Assets

  • The asset exemption applies to earnings or training income earned or paid while the participant attends full-time post-secondary school if the eligibility criteria are met.
  • OSAP is not considered as assets as long as the person remains a student in the program for which it was intended.