College education in Canada can be as high as $80,000, making higher education a harsh reality for most students. To ease this burden, the Canadian government has loan programs designed to support educational funding for students.
These financial assistance programs can be accessed in two ways;
- The Federal (Canada Student Loans Program)
- The Provincial and Territorial (Provincial Student Loans)
Regardless of your status as a student in Canada, whether a full or part-time student, you can apply for a loan via the Canadian government programs.
A Simple guide to Government Student Loan Application
Once your application meets the stipulated requirement for financial need, you could qualify to receive about 60% of the cost of your tuition fee in federal loans. However, there is a limit to the amount a student can receive, which is subject to change.
After graduation, you will owe the loan amount received plus interest to be paid back to the government.
Canada Student Loan Requirements
To qualify for a student loan in Canada, you must be a Canadian citizen or be a permanent resident of Canada, including landed immigrants. Sadly, government student loans in Canada are not available to international students.
As a student, you are required to register fully for fall and winter terms, and spring/summer if applicable. If you have not done this, you will need to indicate your plans to Financial Aid when you submit your registration form.
If you do not offer all the courses you indicated, your loan assessment will likely be reviewed, reduced or cancelled. So, it is crucial to register for courses you are sure of taking during your course of study.
Where to get student loans
Undoubtedly, the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) can settle a significant part of your financial needs. It is important to note, however, that there are lifespan limits on a government loan.
You can only receive aid for a stipulated number of weeks, which may amount to five or six years.
When considering taking up a government student loan, the first thing you need to do is check for the availability of student loans in your province. To apply for both federal and provincial student loans, you only need to do so via your provincial government.
How do I apply for a Student Loan?
As a student, you must apply for government student loans every year of your study via your province of permanent residence. Usually, loan applications come out yearly on or after May 1st for the coming fall/winter session.
It is advisable to apply at least two months before classes commence to guarantee funding.
Loan Information for Full and Part-time Students
For full-time students, loans are both interest and payment-free while studying, and applications can be submitted either online or through a paper application.
Part-time students can only apply through a paper application. As a part-time student, you can get up to $10,000 in loans for a lifetime and will be required to start paying six months after your studies.
When and how does a student get funded?
Having completed all the necessary steps required by your government loan office, the school you enrolled with will be contacted to confirm your enrollment status and also to state the outstanding amount you have on your tuition fees.
This process could happen around September. The school, in turn, will confirm your registration and request that the government sends the loan money directly to them to cover your outstanding tuition fee.
This process can get delayed if a student has outstanding interest on previous loans, or if the NSLSC indicates that a student is in “repayment status.” Also, if a student defaults payment, so it is encouraged that you keep your account in good standing.
Note that students who need support to repay their loans must apply for the National Student Loan Repayment Assistance plan, it is advisable to contact NSLSC to discuss repayment assistance options available for you, and also get an application form.
Students are liable for paying their outstanding balance completely and promptly or will face late fees and interest charges.
What does a student loan cover?
The full-time interest-free loans are calculated based on the student’s financial needs, and it covers basic college expenses like tuition fees, books, and supplies. If a student has more loan money than what was due, the balance will be deposited directly into the student’s bank account.
National Student Loan Service Centre Account
Students are strongly encouraged to sign-up for an online National Student Loan Service Centre account as government student loans are a blend of both federal and provincial funding. It is advisable to sign up for an online NSLSC loan account to track your loan data. You should set up this account at the start of your student loan process.
The NSLSC account gives you access to
- Check your student loan status
- Check the balance of your loan
- Assess your loan payment
- View transaction history
- Modify your repayment
- Apply for the repayment assistance program (RAP)
- Receive information on your loan
How Long before I receive my Student Loan?
Your student loan gets posted once your loan has been processed electronically, and the money should be received within 7-10 business days. Note that receipt of funds through the paper loan will take longer days due to the time fixed for mailing the forms as well as the time for the receiving department to process the loan.
Usually, if there are no issues, it takes 10 – 14 business days. Funds are typically withheld until Sept 1st (fall) and Jan 1st (winter).
It might take some weeks for your payment to appear on your student account once it has been sent. With your student loan account, you can be able to review your account to ensure that the payment does get received and applied to your student account.
After going through the registration process, the NSLSC will be the point of contact for students once their application has been approved. Depending on your financial situation, you may be required to provide additional documents to the NSLSC to continue or change your loan status.