Qs&As Providing Financial Aid to Former Everest College Students March 11, 2015

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1 Qs&As Providing Financial Aid to Former Everest College Students March 11, 2015 Q. How is the government helping students affected by the closure of Everest College? A. Ontario is providing financial assistance for students affected by the closure of Everest College. We are providing funding to allow students to choose to complete their training at another institution without having to pay additional tuition above what their contracts with Everest would have required. If a training completion option is not available, or if students choose not to pursue a training completion, they will receive a refund in compliance with the regulation. As well, all eligible students who incur additional expenses for travel or dependent care in order to attend a training completion may submit an expense claim to be considered for additional reimbursement within 90 days of completing their training. To pursue a training completion, obtain a refund or receive compensation, a student must send a completed student claim form to the Superintendent at It is the role of Ontario s Superintendent of Private Career Colleges (Superintendent), under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, to make arrangements for students affected by the closure of a college to complete their training at another institution or provide them with refunds as required by the regulation. Up to $7.6 million will be available to help students affected by the immediate suspension of Everest College, in addition to the $3 million financial security posted by Everest College that is now available through TCAF. We are also limiting student debt by ensuring that the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant (OSOG) is available to all eligible Everest students, even those who choose to apply for a refund. While OSOG is usually only provided upon completion of a training program, for all eligible Everest students with Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans, their debt will be limited to $7,300 for a two-term academic year, or $10,950 for three terms, regardless of how much they borrowed. We will also be ensuring that the loans of OSAP assisted students, who complete their training at another institution, will not enter into repayment until six months after they have completed training at the alternate institution. 1

2 Q. Why didn t the government ensure there was enough money in TCAF to provide refunds or training completions for all former Everest Colleges students? A. The $3 million cap on TCAF liabilities has been identified as an area for future policy review and possible recommendations for legislative or regulatory amendments. The cap, which was based on actuarial advice, was introduced when the fund went live in 2009 to ensure it had a stable financial basis. A further actuarial review of TCAF is currently in progress and is expected to be completed in spring The government is also carrying out a review of the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, which will take into account recommendations from the actuarial review. Q. Are all students entitled to refunds or training? A. All students whose training was interrupted by the immediate suspension of Everest s registration will be provided with options to complete their training at another institution or a tuition refund. It is the role of Ontario s Superintendent of Private Career Colleges, under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, to make arrangements for students affected by the closure of a private career college to complete their training at another institution or provide them with refunds as required by the regulations under the Act. Q. Will students receive full refunds if that is what they choose? A. The amount of refunds paid to students from TCAF is established by regulation under the Private Career Colleges Act, If no training completion option is available to a student or group of students, or if available training completion options would cause a particular student undue hardship, the regulation requires a full refund for those students. If a student chooses not to pursue available training completion options, a partial refund will be provided. Q. How do you define a partial refund? A. Under Ontario Regulation 414/06, if a former student of a private career college who is provided with training completion options refuses to participate in training completion, the student may submit a claim to the Superintendent for a refund. If this occurs, the student would generally be eligible for a partial refund, or the portion of the fees that were paid to the closed private career college in respect of the discontinued vocational program that the student had yet to receive training for on the day the vocational program was discontinued. A former student of a private career college who is advised by the Superintendent of PCCs that training completion is not available may submit a claim to the Superintendent for a refund of all fees that were paid to the private 2

3 career college in respect of a discontinued vocational program. In this situation, the student could receive a refund for all fees paid to the closed private career college, even if the student had undergone some of his/her training. Q. Will OSAP assisted students receive cash refunds? A. Those students who were receiving financial aid through OSAP, and choose to accept a refund, will have their OSAP file closed. Refunds will be sent directly to the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) and applied against their outstanding OSAP loan(s). Q. Isn t the government setting a precedent by making special grants available for students affected by the closure of Everest College? A. We are currently in the process of reviewing the legislation and regulations governing the administration of TCAF. We are evaluating options to strengthen the financial protections available to students who attend private career colleges. Q. What is the government doing to better protect students attending private career colleges and ensure that this doesn t happen again? A. An actuarial review of Superintendent is currently in progress and is expected to be completed in spring We are also carrying out a review of the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, which will take into account the recommendations from the actuarial review. Q. What measures are being taken to help students progress with training completions at other institutions and submit applications for assistance under TCAF? A. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has taken immediate action to help affected students. Within 48 hours of the immediate suspension of Everest s registration on February 19, 2015, almost 50 ministry officials had provided more than 40 information sessions to more than 2,000 students at all 14 Everest College campuses across Ontario. As of March 11, 2015, ministry staff have received and are responding to 2,490 s and have conducted 1,761 telephone counsel sessions through the ministry and National Student Loan Centre hotlines. The ministry has received over 2,600 supporting documents from students for training completions or refunds under Superintendent. The Superintendent, supported by ministry staff, is focused on assessing student access to training completion opportunities or refunds, depending on which option the student chooses. They are working to ensure that students will not need to re-start their learning, and there is a process in place to ensure that prior 3

4 training received by students at Everest College will be recognized towards the completion of their credential. As of March 11, 2015, the Superintendent and the ministry have reviewed the files of nearly 2,700 Everest students, regardless of whether or not these students have submitted claims under TCAF, to assess each student s options for training completion or a refund. Alternate training options have been identified for 86 per cent of students and there is ongoing work to identify options for the remaining 14 per cent. Students who have not submitted their claims under TCAF are encouraged to submit their claim as soon as possible. The Superintendent, supported by ministry staff, has reached out to over 100 potential training completion providers to invite them to submit proposals to provide former Everest students with the remainder of their training. The ministry is currently reviewing proposals submitted by 65 potential training completion providers and hopes to finalize training completion agreements as soon as possible so that affected Everest students can continue their training. The Superintendent will start sending out option packages to students on March 11, We are also limiting student debt by ensuring that the Ontario Student Opportunity Grant (OSOG), provided under OSAP, is available to all eligible Everest students, even those who choose to apply for a refund. While OSOG is usually only provided upon completion of a training program, for all eligible Everest students with OSAP loans, their debt will be limited to $7,300 for a twoterm academic year, or $10,950 for three terms, regardless of how much they borrowed. Students can send questions relating to training completion and refunds to the Private Career Colleges Branch at Q. How long does the TCAF process take? A. The Superintendent, supported by ministry staff, must assess each student s claim to make determinations around individual requests for training completion or refunds. Claims for training completions must be filed using the student claim form and sent to the ministry at within 14 days of the student being provided with available training completion options; however, if a student chooses to request a refund rather than proceed with a training completion, that request must be made within six months of the day the Superintendent declared the institution s financial security forfeit. The Superintendent declared Everest College s financial security forfeit on February 19, About 2,700 students were training at Everest at the time of the suspension of its registration as a private career college on February 19, To present all students with their training completion options, the Superintendent must review the vocational program provided by each of Everest s 14 campuses and identify 4

5 similar programs provided by other institutions in Ontario. Once options have been identified, the Superintendent will provide eligible students with available training completion options and information about refunds. Students have 14 days from the day the Superintendent provides them with training completion options to reply to the Superintendent in writing to identify their choice. As of March 11, 2015, the Superintendent and the ministry have reviewed the files of nearly 2,700 Everest students, regardless of whether or not these students have submitted claims under TCAF, to assess each student s options for training completion or a refund. Alternate training options have been identified for 86 per cent of students and there is ongoing work to identify options for the remaining 14 per cent. Students who have not submitted their claims under TCAF are encouraged to submit their claim as soon as possible. The Superintendent will start sending out option packages to students on March 11, Q. Why did the Superintendent immediately suspend the registration and propose to revoke the registration of Everest College? A. The purpose of the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, is to protect students by providing oversight and quality assurance in the sector. Under the Act, the Superintendent is the statutory regulator and independent decision maker. With regards to Everest College, the Superintendent of private career colleges was of the opinion that the immediate suspension of the college s registration on February 19, 2015, was necessary to protect current and prospective students. The Superintendent also proposed to revoke Everest s registration because she was not satisfied that Everest could be expected to be financially responsible in the operation of a private career college and in the offering of its vocational programs. The day after the Superintendent made these decisions, on February 20, 2015, Everest filed an assignment in bankruptcy. Q. Can t Everest College appeal the Superintendent s decision? A. Under the Private Career Colleges Act, Everest College has the right to require a hearing by the Licence Appeal Tribunal of the suspension of registration and proposal to revoke registration issued on February 19, On February 20, 2015, Everest filed an assignment in bankruptcy. Effective immediately on filing bankruptcy, Everest s Trustee would have authority to exercise that right. On March 6, 2015, the Trustee filed the necessary documents to require a hearing at the Licence Appeal Tribunal of both decisions. As a result, until such time as the License Appeal Tribunal hearing is resolved, the Superintendent is not permitted to revoke the registration of Everest College. However, Everest s 5

6 registration as a private career college remains suspended, and Everest is still prohibited from operating as a private career college. Despite this development, the Superintendent will continue to identify training completion opportunities and provide options for training completion or possible refunds for affected Everest College students. Until a hearing has occurred and the Licence Appeal Tribunal has made a determination with respect to the Superintendent s decisions to suspend and propose to revoke Everest s registration, it would be inappropriate for the ministry to comment on possible outcomes of the hearing at this time. Q. Is the ministry going to approve the proposed sale of Everest College? A. A purchase of Everest College would need to be negotiated between the Trustee in Bankruptcy and a potential purchaser. The Superintendent and the Director of Student Financial Assistance Branch would need to be satisfied that a potential purchaser meets the requirements for registration as a private career college and for approval as a continuing institution for the purposes of administrating OSAP. On February 23, 2015, the Superintendent received an incomplete proposal from a potential buyer wishing to take over operations at Everest. The potential purchaser has been informed that the proposal was incomplete. Q. If the ministry already has student files, why do students need to submit TCAF claim forms? A. Under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 and Ontario Regulation 414/06, in order to be eligible for training completion or refund funded by TCAF, a student must submit to the Superintendent a claim form, including evidence of payments made while the student was undergoing training. The Superintendent has an obligation to ensure that she has correct information relating to each student who is entitled to a training completion or a refund under TCAF. Although the student files obtained from Everest provide helpful information to use as a starting point to assess students eligibility, the Superintendent cannot rely on that information alone in determining training completion or refund options; students may have information that was not yet updated in the files maintained at Everest (e.g., payments made prior to the suspension). 6

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