On March 29, 2022, Ontario announced A Plan to Stay Open, which includes a number of measures to recruit more doctors, nurses and personal support workers to the province's health system. Building on the success of the Community Commitment Program for Nurses, a key component of A Plan to Stay Open is an investment of $142 million to launch the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant (OLSG).
Students starting their studies at Sault College in September 2023 in one of the following programs will be eligible to apply for the grant:
How Will the Grant Work?
- You may be eligible to receive full, upfront funding for tuition, books, and other direct educational costs
- Expanding the Community Commitment Program for Nurses to allow for up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year to receive full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to practice in an underserved community
- Starting in spring 2023, applications will open for approximately 2,500 eligible students each year who commit to stay in their region working in an underserved community after graduation
Key Learn and Stay Design Parameters
The program will have the following design parameters:
|Service Commitment Length||Six months per year of full-time studies or grant to loan conversion|
|Service Commitment Location||Students must complete their service commitment requirements in the region where they studied|
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant?
The Ontario Learn and Stay Grant is a new student financial aid program which will start in the 2023-24 academic year. It is a key component of Ontario’s A Plan to Stay Open, announced in March 2022, which includes a number of measures to recruit more doctors, nurses and personal support workers to the province’s health system.
The grant will support postsecondary students enrolled in targeted priority programs in underserved communities by providing upfront non-repayable funding for tuition, books, and other direct educational costs, in exchange for committing to serve in these communities after graduation.
- What costs will the grant cover?
The grant will cover the full costs of tuition, books and other direct educational costs (e.g. supplies, equipment) of specific programs identified by the ministry.
- How much funding will the grant provide to eligible students?
The exact funding for eligible students will vary depending on the program and institution. However, the grant funding will cover all direct educational costs of the identified program, including tuition and books.
- When will applications for the grant open?
Applications for the grant will open in spring of 2023.
- What programs are eligible for the grant?
In the 2023-24 academic year, the grant will focus on specific human health resources programs, including:
- Nursing programs in Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario;
- Medical Laboratory Technologist programs in Northern and Southwestern Ontario; and
- Paramedic programs in Northern Ontario.
For a full tentative list of eligible programs, you can click here to visit the Ontario website. A tentative list of the eligible programs is also provided in the appendix.
- How did the ministry select the eligible programs and communities for the 2023-24 academic year?
As the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant is a key component of Ontario’s A Plan to Stay Open, which includes measures to enhance the province’s health system, human health resources programs were identified as the top priority for the first year of the grant.
Working closely with other ministries, including the Ministry of Health, the specific human health resources programs of study for the 2023-24 academic year were determined as the programs and regions of the province that have the greatest need to target in the first year.
In future years, other programs and communities may be included, as the ministry will go through a program selection process each year based on regional needs and government priorities.
- Some of the selected eligible programs are full-cost recovery programs that are ineligible for OSAP funding and therefore do not currently have a cost code associated with them. Are full-cost recovery programs eligible for the Learn and Stay Grant?
Consistent with OSAP, full-cost recovery programs will not be eligible for the Learn and Stay Grant. We will be finalizing the list of eligible programs following consultation with the institutions delivering them. Any identified full-cost recovery programs will be removed from the final list of eligible programs, which we will share in the coming weeks.
- Who is eligible for the grant?
To be eligible for the grant in 2023-24, students must:
- be Ontario residents who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or
- protected persons;
- be enrolled in the first year of an eligible program; and
- commit to serve for a specific term in the region where they studied.
Intake in 2023-24 will be only first year students. Eligibility for upper years will open as the first cohort moves through their programs.
Consistent with full-time OSAP definitions, students will need to be enrolled in at least 60%, or 40% for students with disabilities, of a full course load to be eligible for Learn and Stay.
International students are not eligible for the grant.
- Will the program follow Ontario eligibility requirements or federal eligibility requirements?
Learn and Stay is an Ontario grant and will have its own eligibility requirements. However, in certain circumstances (e.g., if students withdraw from their studies or do not meet the service requirement after graduation), the grant will be converted to an Ontario Student Loan and will be administered as part of the Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan.
- Is the grant open to new and returning nursing students, and is there a cap on the number of students who could apply each year?
The Learn and Stay Grant is based on a cohort approach, so it will only be available to students that enrol in the first year of an eligible program. Eligibility for upper years will open as the first cohort moves through their programs.
Learn and Stay is an entitlement program and there will be no cap on the number of students who can apply each year.
- How will entrance scholarships awarded by the institution be factored into the grant?
Scholarships awarded by institutions will not have an impact on either the student’s eligibility or their amount of the Learn and Stay Grant.
- Will the grant cover tuition for spring/summer enrollment should a student need or want to pick up additional courses outside of the regular fall/winter terms?
Yes, the grant will be available to students who choose to enroll in spring/summer courses, provided they maintain full-time status during spring/summer (60% of a full-time course load or 40% for students with disabilities).
- What are the requirements of the service commitment?
Upon completion of their studies, students must complete a relevant, paid service commitment in the region where they studied for a minimum of six months for every year of full-time study funded by this grant.
- How would a reduced course load impact the service requirement?
The service requirement will be prorated to reflect the course load that students took. For example, 60 per cent of a full course load in a year would result in a minimum service requirement of 108 days (i.e. 60 percent of 180 days).
- For nursing programs, are there any specific parameters around the types of professions a graduate must commit to work in upon graduation?
The ministry is working with the Ministry of Health to determine the conditions for graduates to fulfil their service requirement. These details will be identified in the service agreement that students will need to sign with their application to the grant. Further details on this will be provided in the coming weeks.
- What happens if students cannot fulfil the service commitment after they graduate?
Students have up to six months following their graduation to find an acceptable role that fulfils their service commitment. If they are unable to fulfil their service commitment, their grant will be converted to an Ontario Student Loan, which will need to be paid back to the ministry.
- Does the ministry expect any reviews to be created for exceptional circumstances as to why a student was unable to complete the service requirements?
Yes, the ministry is currently working on the details regarding exceptional circumstances review, and they will be shared as soon as they are finalized.
- If a student is not successful in securing employment in the region where they studied but is able to secure employment in another region covered by the grant, will the grant still be honoured?
Upon completion of their studies, students will have six months to secure employment in the region in which they studied. Details on the service requirements, including service location, will be provided in the service agreement that students would need to sign before they receive grant funding. The ministry may build some flexibility in the service agreement to allow students to work in another region covered by the grant if it is determined that the other region has sufficient labour market need. The service agreement will provide further details on this process.
- Can recipients of the grant also receive funding from Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)?
Students who apply for the grant can also apply for OSAP if they need more support with costs not covered by the grant, such as living expenses.
- Can the ministry integrate this program within the OSAP application process?
While Learn and Stay Grant is separate from OSAP and will be promoted distinctly to avoid confusion, it will be housed on OSAP platforms, avoiding the need to create new infrastructure. This includes using the existing OSAP service provider to manage the disbursement of the grant, service commitment compliance, and grant to loan conversion; administering client profiles and accounts using OSAP systems; and using established OSAP rules where possible. The Learn and Stay Grant application will provide applicants with the option to apply for OSAP, if they need support with the costs that are not covered by Learn and Stay, such as living expenses and childcare.
- How will the Confirmation of Enrollment work with Learn and Stay, and will redirection of tuition fees to the institution apply?
In designing the Learn and Stay Grant, the ministry plans to use established OSAP rules as much as possible. We expect the Confirmation of Enrollment to mirror the process used with full-time OSAP. We will provide more details on this in the coming months.
- How can students decide which funding program will better meet their needs, OSAP or Learn and Stay? Can students change their mind after receiving funding from Learn and Stay if they later determine that funding from Full-time OSAP would have better met their needs?
Before the launch of the Learn and Stay application, the ministry will provide further information on the Learn and Stay Grant, including funding estimate and the service commitment requirement, to help students decide whether this grant meets their financial needs without impacting their future goals. In addition, the application process will start with an information session on Learn and Stay, which will provide students with an overview of the grant, the financial supports they can expect to receive and their obligations as recipients of the grant. Students will be required to read the information session prior to proceeding with the application.
If students change their mind after starting their program with Learn and Stay funding, they have the option to apply for full-time OSAP to be considered for funding for any remaining years of their studies. However, grant funding they received from Learn and Stay will be converted to a loan, which they will be required to pay back to the ministry.
- What is the interaction between OSAP for Micro-credentials and Learn and Stay Grant?
The Learn and Stay Grant has no impact on OSAP for Micro-credentials. Recipients of the Learn and Stay Grant can still apply for OSAP for micro-credentials funding if they are enrolled in an eligible micro-credential program.
- How did the ministry determine that students will be interested in the
The ministry has worked closely with other ministries and partners to select these programs based on evidence that indicates a need for them. The ministry will continue to monitor enrollment trends to inform future direction.
- When will more information on the grant and the application be available?
More information on the grant and the application process will be available in the coming months and will be included on the ministry’s website.
- Will the grant be offered again for fall 2024 entry, or is it only for this upcoming fall 2023 entry?
The grant will be available starting in the 2023-24 academic year, and it will continue in future years for students starting their first year of an eligible program. However, programs and institutions eligible for the grant might change in future years, depending on identified labour market needs, which will be determined on a yearly basis.