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Ontario Just Announced It Will Cover University Tuition For Low-Income Students

If your family makes less than $50,000 a year, you can put tuition on the government's credit card.

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The Ontario government's 2016 budget contains an unexpected bit of news: Starting next year, students who come from low-income households get free tuition.

Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Ontario government says it wants to simplify the complicated student aid system by ending education tax credits and focusing instead on giving grants to students who need them.

Under the new Ontario Student Grant, students from families making $50,000 or less will be eligible for grants covering the average cost of postsecondary tuition. In fact, 90% of college students and 70% of university students will actually receive more than the average cost of tuition.

"Mr. Speaker, it gives us great pleasure to announce that these students will have no provincial student debt," Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in the provincial parliament on Thursday.

Students from better-off households will also get significant help, on a sliding scale. (The median Ontario household income in 2013 was $76,510.)

Ontario Ministry of Finance / Via fin.gov.on.ca

The Ontario government is also promising to increase access to "interest-free and low-cost" loans for middle- and upper-income families, expand support for mature students, and improve postsecondary access for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students.

The changes will be in effect by the start of the 2017-18 school year, the budget says. Sousa said the new grant system will cost “roughly the same” as the current $1.3 billion the government shells out each year in student aid, according to the Globe and Mail.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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