Beatriz Balderrama Baleeiro, News Reporter

Ontario is allowing post-secondary students to postpone student loan payments in an effort to ease financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Effective immediately, borrowers under the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will not be required to make loan payments until Sept. 30, the province said.

Interest will not accrue on loans during this time. The support is automatic and does not require registration.

Students can still make payments through their online account or online banking if they wish to repay their loans faster, the province said.

The measures come as a relief for post-secondary students across Ontario, many of whom have been laid off from part-time work.

“Whether it’s enough time or not to save up, I’m not sure. But the alternative of not having the dates postponed would have been much, much worse,” said Savannah Lapensee, a first-year Multimedia Design and Development student at Humber College.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) said this support assures graduates facing an uncertain economic period have enough time — and the assistance they need — to find stable employment before repaying their loans. 

“This student debt relief measure will help alleviate some financial insecurity graduates are facing, and will help ensure Ontarians can prioritize the health of themselves and others,” Catherine Dunne, president of OUSA and vice president of the University Students’ Council at Western University, said in a news release.

The province also reached an agreement with eCampusOntario to provide online learning resources to post-secondary institutions.

These temporary digital learning supports, available in French and English, will offer Ontario public colleges and universities the ability to manage end-of-year assessments while protecting students’ privacy.

Additionally, the province will also give $25 million in funding to publicly assisted colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes.

The money will help fund COVID-19-related measures, like mental health support, the deep cleaning of campuses and the purchasing of medical supplies.