Student Loan Difficulties

students gathered

Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP): Interest Relief and Debt Reduction

If you have graduated and are having difficulty repaying your OSAP loan, you may be eligible for the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP). Ontario recently introduced a new plan that is aligned with the federal RAP and is available on both the Canada and Ontario portions of student loans. The RAP has two stages - interest relief and debt reduction. You may be able to revise your loan repayment terms by gaining interest relief, lowering monthly payments and extending your loan repayment period to up to 15 years.

For more information about RAP, go to the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) website or call 1-888-815-4514. Fill out the RAP application and submit it to the NSLSC. Your file will be assessed based on your application and eligibility requirements. Enrolment for the RAP is not automatic, so you will need to re-apply every 6 months.

 

If a collection agency is calling you about a student loan

If a collection agency is calling you about an outstanding OSAP loan, it means that the government has hired the agency to collect payment on your loan or the government has sold your OSAP debt to that collection agency. The first thing you should do is to call OSAP (1-877-672-7411 or www.osap.gov.on.ca) in the scenario that they have this debt.

However, it is important to know your rights when dealing with a collection agency. Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has compiled resources for dealing with collection agencies. If the collection agency uses threatening, intimidating or profane language or tactics, you can file a complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Services.

 

Other student loan tips

Student loan problems are often related to overly complex government policies and confusing bureaucracy. There are various steps that you could take to help you navigate through problems that you may experience with your student loans:

  • Write down a brief, concise summary of your circumstances. It is likely that you will have to repeat this summary on many occasions.
  • Logically organize all of your documentation related to your student loans. Keep your files on hand for reference purposes.
  • Every time you speak to or meet with a service representative, obtain the representative's name and department. Record the time, date, and key details of the conversation.
  • Send important correspondence by registered mail. Keep copies of all correspondence.
  • If you are experiencing poor service from a provincial government agency, like OSAP, you should consider contacting your Member of Provincial Parliament or filing a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman's Office.
  • If you are being contacted by a collection agency, know your rights.
  • Sometimes it's necessary to contact the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities directly (www.edu.gov.on.ca).
  • For legal assistance, consult with the nearest campus or community legal clinic. Explore your options with Legal Aid Ontario.

Many difficulties related to government programs, like OSAP and Canada Student Loans, result from inadequate government legislation. In other words, such difficulties require a political solution. Consider contacting your local Member of Provincial Parliament (www.ontla.on.ca) or federal Member of Parliament (www.parl.gc.ca), as well as your local students' union. You might also raise awareness of the issue by writing a short letter to the editor of your campus or community newspaper.