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Queen's University
 

OSAP Appeals

Family Breakdown/Step-Parent Reviews

 

    Family Breakdown Reviews

    The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may administer reviews to allow an assessment without reference to one or both parent’s financial information in situations where there is a serious rift in the family and the student is estranged from one or both parents due to documented mental, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or drug or alcohol addiction in the student’s family.

    The FAA should consider the following factors when administering family breakdown reviews:

    • severity and degree of the breakdown;
    • length of time the rift has existed;
    • reason for the final breakdown and the extent to which the student could have prevented this situation from occurring;
    • parental treatment of other siblings;     
    • reasons for the family breakdown;
    • attempts at, or likelihood of, reconciliation;
    • if the problem/rift exists with only one parent, consideration of the other parent’s position in the breakdown and his/her ability or willingness to assist the student;

    Family breakdown reviews which are submitted where the parents’ rationale for not supporting the student is deemed to be arbitrary are not considered, such as the following examples (the list is not exhaustive): 

    • Parents feel that it is the responsibility of the government to fund postsecondary education;
    • Parents feel that once the student reach the age of 18, the student is independent;
    • Parents do not agree with the student’s choice of program or institution;
    • Parents do not approve of the student’s living arrangements.

    Documentation required:

    • Written documentation from at least one third party individual, preferably a professional, who was directly involved with the situation (e.g., court reports; letters from police, social workers, children’s shelters or physicians). If a professional third party was not involved, documentation from other reliable third parties who were directly involved with the situation is required. (e.g., siblings, grandparents, other relatives). Third party documents must contain the contact information for the third party, including telephone number and address, and the signature of the third party.
    • A letter from the student detailing the situation:
      • Date of the final rift with parent(s);
      • If the rift is with both parents, date the student left home and how the student has supported her/himself since leaving home;
      • Any steps taken by the student to correct the situation
      • Possibility of reconciliation.
    • A letter from the student’s parent(s) is not required.  However, in situations where only one parent was involved in the problem/rift, the FAA may ask the student to provide a letter from the parent who is not directly involved in the situation.
    • The extent, if any, of professional involvement in the situation (e.g., social agency, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor)
    • If the rift is with both parents, proof of the student’s separate residence (e.g., copy of a lease or rental agreement).

    Note:  Students who are receiving support under the Youth Without Shelter, Stay in School Program are only required to provide a third-party letter from the program identifying that they are living in the shelter provided by the program and receiving basic living supports while in school.

     

    Step-Parents: Parental Union After Student Turned 16 Years of Age

    The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may administer reviews to allow an assessment without reference to the step-parent’s financial information if the student’s situation meets all of the following criteria:

    • the step-parent is refusing to support the student;
    • the marriage or common law union between the natural parent and step-parent occurred on or after the date the student turned 16 years of age;
    • the step-parent has not supported the student directly or indirectly since the union. If the student resides in the parental home and the natural parent has minimal income, the step-parent may be deemed to have indirectly supported the student.

    Documentation required:

    • A letter from the student detailing the situation.
    • A letter from the natural parent providing the date of marriage or common law union and an explanation of how the natural parent has supported the student since the union.
    • A letter from the step-parent explaining the reason(s) why he or she will not support the student.

     

    Step-Parents: Parental Union Prior to Student Turning 16 Years of Age

    Documentation must demonstrate that the step-parent is not directly or indirectly contributing to the student’s expenses, and that the reasons for refusing to contribute do not constitute an arbitrary refusal to assist the student, as set out at the beginning of this section. 

    Documentation required:

    • A letter from the student detailing the relationship with the step-­parent.
    • A letter from the natural parent providing the date of marriage, the reasons why the step-parent is not contributing, and a description of any prenuptial arrangements regarding the support of the children.
    • A copy of the prenuptial agreement/marriage contract, if one exists.
    • A letter from the step-parent explaining the reasons why he or she is not contributing.
    • A family budget completed by the natural parent indicating only his or her actual monthly gross and net income, expenses and that amount of support provided to the student.

     

    Family Breakdown or Step-Parent Reviews Previously Accepted

    The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may administer reviews that allow assessments of the student without reference to his/her parents’ financial information if a family breakdown or step-parent review has been previously approved.

    Additional documentation, other than noted below, is not required to accept the review provided that the student is attending the same institution and no break has occurred between academic years.

    If there has been a break between academic years the student must submit a new review to the FAA. 

    Documentation required:

    • A letter from the student confirming that the family situation has not changed from the time the initial review was approved.

     

    Dependent Student Switches Contributing Parent

    The custodial parent or the parent with whom the student lives should complete the student’s OSAP application.  A student can, however, change the parent who completes the application from year to year provided the student actually changes residence.  However, a student cannot live with one parent and use the income of the other parent because it is lower.

    In some situations it may be difficult to establish which parent has been providing the student with primary support.  Issues such as where the student last lived, or where the student spends the summer holidays should be considered when determining which parent should complete the application.

    In any of the above situations, if the natural parent to whom the student is switching has remarried, the student’s step-parent must also complete the application.  If the step-parent refuses to provide assistance, a review may be applicable. 

    Documentation required:

    • Documentation to confirm the residence change (e.g., drivers license);
    • A letter from the student outlining the change in residence;
    • A letter from the parent confirming the change in residence; and,
    • A new OSAP application with the new supporting parent’s financial information must be submitted.

     

    Separated/Divorced or Deceased Parents

    If a student’s parents separate/divorce, or if one parent dies before the halfway point of the student’s study period, then the student’s financial need may be calculated based on the income of the remaining custodial parent. 

    Documentation required:

    • A letter from the student’s remaining custodial parent outlining the date and change of the family’s circumstances;
    • In the case of separation/divorce, a copy of the separation/divorce agreement indicating which parent has custody and the extent to which financial support is being provided by the non-custodial parent;
    • In the case of the death of a parent, proof of death (e.g., a copy of the death certificate).

     

    Student's Only Parent is Deceased

    If a student has been accepted for OSAP purposes as having only one custodial parent (i.e., was never married, or was separated or divorced and not remarried at the time of the application) and the custodial parent dies before the halfway point of the student’s study period, then the student’s financial need may be calculated without any expected parental contribution.

    Documentation Required:

    • Proof of custodial parent’s death (e.g., a copy of the death certificate).

     

    Family Breakdown/Step-Parent Reviews - Ontario Access Grants (Single Independent Students, Sole-support Parents, and Married Students)

    The Financial Aid Administrator (FAA) may determine a single independent student, a married student, or sole-support parent is not able to provide the required parental income information to be considered for the Ontario Access Grant. (Note: The student meets all other access grant eligibility criteria.)

    Documentation Required:

    • Written documentation from at least one third party individual, preferably a professional, who was directly involved with the situation (e.g., court reports; letters from police, social workers, children’s shelters or physicians). If a professional third party was not involved, documentation from other reliable third parties who were directly involved with the situation is required. (e.g., siblings, grandparents, other relatives). Third party documents must contain the contact information for the third party, including telephone number and address, and the signature of the third party.
    • A letter from the student detailing the situation.
    • Supporting documentation required based on the reviewable family breakdown/step-parent situations.

     

    Former Crown Ward from Outside Ontario

    A student may be considered independent for the purposes of the OSAP assessment if he or she was a former Crown ward from another jurisdiction at the time of his or her eighteenth birthday, and the student has never been adopted.

    For the purposes of OSAP, the definition of a crown ward is someone who was made a ward of the Crown in Ontario under the Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990.

    If a student is able to provide documentation that he or she was made a ward of the Crown in another jurisdiction and that he or she was not subsequently adopted, FAAs may consider the student to meet the definition of a current/former Crown ward for the purposes of the OSAP assessment and no parental contribution is required.

    Please note, these students may be considered as independent students for the purposes of the OSAP assessment, but would not be considered eligible for the Ontario Access Grant for Crown Wards since this grant is specifically intended for students who were made wards of the Crown in Ontario. In other words, their student category must not be changed.

    Documentation Required:

    • Written documentation from a children’s aid society or equivalent from the jurisdiction where the student was made a ward of the Crown stating that the individual was made a ward of the Crown and that the individual has not been adopted. 

    Note: While students may wish to provide a Court Order as a form of verification of their current or former status as a Crown ward, these Orders sometimes contain personal information about third parties, such as siblings or parents that the student does not have permission to disclose. Therefore, students should be encouraged to request a letter from their Children’s Aid Society or equivalent agency. If a student is unable to obtain a letter from his or her Children’s Aid Society or equivalent agency, and chooses to provide a Court Order, FAAs may not make a copy of the Order and must, instead, make a notation on the student’s file that a Court Order that confirmed the student’s Crown ward status was viewed. 

     

    High School Graduation Date-Ontario Tuition Grant

    This review may be used to adjust the high school completion date for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for the OTG. The review may be used for students who apply for the OTG through the OTG-only application or the OSAP application. 

    Both the OSAP and OTG-only applications ask a student to report the date that they last attended high school on a full-time basis, On both applications, instructions indicate that if they left high school for at least one year, and later returned to high school, they should enter the date they first left high school.

    For the purposes of the OSAP assessment, using the earlier date ensures that students who complete high school as mature students are less likely to be considered dependent students.

    For the purposes of determining eligibility for the OTG, if a student returns to high school after being absent for at least one year, they may be considered eligible for the OTG if the last time they attended high school on a full time basis was less than four years before the start of the current study period (or six years for a student with a permanent disability). This review will not affect student’s status with respect to their OSAP application and/or any other type of OSAP funding (e.g., single independent, single dependent, married, sole support parent)

    Example:
    On the OSAP application, a student enters a “last attended high school date” of January 1, 2008, thus making her a single independent student for the purpose of OSAP funding, and ineligible for an OTG.

    The student requests a review because January 1, 2008 is the first time she left high school. The most recent date she attended high school was June 20, 2011.
    The student’s study period starts September 7, 2013. Since June 20, 2011 is less than four years (or six years if she has a disability) before the start of the current study period, the student may be considered eligible for the OTG, if all other eligibility criterion are met.

    Documentation required:

    • Letter from student explaining the situation;
    • Proof of date last attended a secondary school or equivalent (see note below) on a full-time basis;
    • Extended Group Parental information sections of the application completed (student can print these pages of the paper application and have parent(s) complete them);
    • Extended Group Parent’s signature and consent (student can print this page of the paper application and have parent(s) complete.

    Note: Students who return to high school after dropping out, may choose to obtain their high school credits through a secondary school or an Independent Learning Centre which is Ontario’s designated provider of Ministry of Education credits and the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) through distance education.

     

    Extended OTG Eligibility for Military Service

    A student may request a review to extend eligibility for the OTG if he or she was performing full-time military service with the Canadian Forces during any portion of the first four years after completion of high school (or six years for a student with a permanent disability). Periods of basic military training may be included in determining the extension, but not education and training opportunities paid by the Forces (e.g., Subsidized Education plans for candidates who enter the Regular Force through the option to have the Canadian Forces fund their technical college or university studies).

    Documentation Required:

    • Proof of full-time service for individuals in the Regular Force or proof of full-time deployment for individuals in the Reserve Force (e.g., a letter from the Canadian Forces commanding officer).

    Note: if the review is approved, the student will be required to provide all additional documentation required for the OTG, i.e., parental income information and signed parental signature pages.

    Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000