The Government of Canada’s Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) provides financial assistance to students on the basis of financial need. The amount of funding given to help pay for expenses such as tuition, school supplies and living expenses is determined by numerous factors such as family income, tuition, program length and whether you’re enrolled full- or part-time, and school-related expenses, as noted above. For a better idea of how much student aid you may be eligible for, check out the Student Financial Assistance Estimator.
For full-time university or college students, CSLP provides approximately 60% of assessed financial need through federal loans. The weekly maximum CSLP limit is $210. With the effects of the recent pandemic on the economy, the federal government offers additional financial support to students, increasing the limit to $350 for the 2020/2021 academic year.
A student loan from the CSLP is publicly-funded money, which you don’t have to start paying back until six months after you graduate or leave your studies, and interest won’t accumulate. After the grace period is over, you are responsible for repaying the total amount you borrowed, plus interest. You may have heard that you won’t have to pay interest on your student loans for the 2020-21 academic year, but that has yet to be confirmed. Currently, it is part of a proposal by the Department of Finance.
Your province or territory may grant you a student loan, depending on where you’re going to school and where you live (generally, you must live in the province/territory for 12 months before you can apply). However, with student loans from your province/territory, interest may accrue immediately upon finishing your final term. The good thing is that these interest rates are significantly lower than those of a line of credit or credit card. To get a better idea of how interest rates will affect your monthly payments, check out this repayment estimator tool.
In addition to student loans, college or university students whose family income is below the income threshold may also receive up to $3,000 in grants.
What are Canada Student Grants?
The Canada Student Grants Program provides financial assistance to students based on financial need, but unlike student loans, grants don’t have to be paid back! In the 2017/2018 academic year, nearly half a million students received more than $1 billion in federal grants.
The value of a grant also depends on your family’s income and whether you are a full-time or part-time student. Full-time students can receive up to $3,000 per academic year, while part-time students can receive up to $1,800 per academic year. If you are a student with a permanent disability or are Indigenous, you may be eligible for additional government student aid.
If your family’s income is above the income thresholds for Canada Student Grant eligibility, you may not qualify for a grant. However, if you are eligible for a grant as well as a loan, you have the option to decline the loan and receive only the grant.