How to Apply for a Student Loan

Step 1: Find out if you are eligible for a Canada Student Loan

Check to see if you are eligible for a Canada Student Loan.

If you received a student loan in the past, check your lifetime limits on student financial assistance. For example, full-time students who received loans on or after August 1, 1995, are eligible to receive student financial assistance for a maximum of 340 weeks.

Step 2: Get a Canada Student Loan and Grant application form

One form is all that you need to be assessed for loans and grants.

Applications can be found:

Step 3: Complete the application form

Complete and send your application form for federal and provincial student assistance to your province or territory of permanent residence. You can speed up the process by submitting it online or allow 4-6 weeks by mail.

Specific application procedures by province/territory

Application procedures are based on where you live as a permanent resident glossary definition, not the province or territory where you plan to go to school (except for part-time student loans or grants).

If you are permanent resident of Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick or Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Complete 1 application form and submit it to your province of permanent residence.
  • You are assessed for both federal and provincial student loans and grants
  • You may be eligible to receive one loan: a combination of federal and provincial student loans.
  • You manage and repay your student loan through the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC).
If you are permanent resident of Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island
  • Complete 1 application form and submit it to your province of permanent residence.
  • You are assessed for both federal and provincial student loans and grants.
  • You may be eligible to receive two loans: one from the Government of Canada and the other from your provincial government.
  • You manage and repay your loans through two loan providers: the NSLSC Web site for your Canada Student Loan, and your provincial government's student financial assistance office or their service provider for your provincial loan.
If you are permanent resident of Yukon
  • You apply for a Canada Student Loan through Yukon Student Aid.
  • You are assessed for both federal and territorial grants as well as a Canada Student Loan.
  • You manage and repay your student loan through the NSLSC Web site
If you are permanent resident of Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Quebec
  • You apply to your province or territory of permanent residence for student loans.
  • Canada Student Loans and Canada Student Grants are not available. These jurisdictions operate their own student loan programs, which are partly funded by the federal government.
  • You manage and repay your student loan to your province or territory of permanent residence.

Need help? Contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office.

Note: You must re-apply for a Canada Student Loan every school year. If you do not apply for financial assistance during one semester or year of study, your school must complete Confirmation of Enrolment information in person or electronically.

Step 4: Check your mail or email for your Notice of Assessment

Your Notice of Assessment will tell you if you qualified for a loan and grant. You may receive it through the mail, online or by email.

If you qualified:

  • You may get a Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA). You must read, sign and return it to the NSLSC along with your banking information.
  • Part-time students will receive 2 separate documents:
    • Certificate of Eligibility Part-Time Student Loans and Grants; and
    • Canada Student Financial Assistance Agreement for Part-Time Students.

If you are not approved for funding or you are not happy with the approved amount:

  • Contact the student financial assistance office in your province or territory. There is a formal reassessment process for students who disagree with the money they have been awarded. Amounts can be reassessed according to your province or territory's own criteria, and those of the federal government.

Step 5: Review your loan documents and confirm enrolment with your school

If you are approved for full-time funding, you must review your Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement:

  • Your MSFAA is a legally binding contract, it is important that you review it carefully and read the terms and conditions.
  • Check your personal information to make sure it is correct. If not, contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office.
  • Include your banking information and a void cheque if you want your money to be deposited directly into your bank account.
  • The MSFAA is a multi-year agreement. This means the next time you apply for student financial assistance, you won't have to sign and submit a new MSFAA. Just complete and submit an application through your province of residence and wait for your Notice of Assessment to come in the mail or online.
  • Before you can receive your student loan and/or grant money, your school must confirm you are enrolled full-time at a designated post-secondary institution.
  • Your confirmation of enrolment may have been completed electronically by your school or a Confirmation of Enrolment form will be mailed to you or your school.

If you are approved for part-time funding, you must review your Certificate of Eligibility Part-Time Student Loans and Grants and your Canada Student Financial Assistance Agreement for Part-Time Students.

  • The Certificate of Eligibility details the types and amount of your part-time student financial assistance and also includes the confirmation of enrolment section that must be completed by your school.
  • The Agreement is the contract between you and the Government of Canada for part-time funding. Your Certificate of Eligibility and your Canada Student Financial Assistance Agreement for Part-Time Student are legally binding contracts. It is important that you review them carefully.
  • Check your personal information to ensure it is correct on both documents. If anything is incorrect, contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office.

Step 6: Sign your student loan documents

Make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and commitments before signing. Your loan agreement is a legal document and your signature means you agree to be bound by its terms and conditions.

Once you're sure that all the information is correct and you have read and accepted the terms and conditions, sign your agreement.

Step 7: Submit your loan documents

Submit your completed and signed MSFAA (or Certificate of Eligibility and Student Loan Agreement if you are a part-time student).

How?

Bring the following identification to a Canada Post outlet:

  1. A valid photo identification issued in Canada by the federal, or a provincial or territorial government, such as:
    • a valid driver's license;
    • a passport;
    • a provincial health card with a photo;
    • a permanent residency or citizenship card;
    • certificate of Indian status;
    • federal or provincial employee identification card; or
    • Record of Landing accompanied by an expired Permanent Residence Card.
  2. A document proving that the Social Insurance Number (SIN) on your loan or grant authorization document is yours. For example, you can show your SIN card or present an official Government of Canada document that has your SIN on it, such as:
    • a Canada Revenue Agency Notice of Assessment;
    • a Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions;
    • a Confirmation of Social Insurance Number from Service Canada; or
    • a temporary SIN card.
  3. Your signed MSFAA (or Certificate of Eligibility and Student Financial Assistance Agreement if part-time). Don't forget to attach a void cheque or fill out your banking information.

Step 8: Wait for your money to arrive!

Your loan or grant money will be deposited directly to your bank account or forwarded to your school to pay your academic fees (e.g. tuition) on or after the first day of classes.

For students with a MSFAA, contact your school directly if you want to make other payment arrangements. It's always faster and easier if you sign up for direct deposit as there will be a delay if you do not provide your bank information.

While there are exceptions, you normally get two disbursements of money in a year, depending on when you apply: one will be during your first term and the other during your second term. For more information on disbursement dates, check with your school's student financial assistance office.

Note: If your financial situation changes before you start school or while you're studying there, you must inform your provincial or territorial student assistance office.

If your eligibility for student loans is reassessed and this changes the amount of money you are to receive, your provincial or territorial student assistance office will let you know.

How to apply if you are a reservist

If you are a reservist in the Canadian Forces while studying full-time and will be serving in a designated operation, download and fill out the Confirmation of Posting Assignment for Full-Time Students form and submit it along with your loan application (Step 7) to receive interest-free status. Make sure you attach a copy of your notification of posting instructions that you received from the Department of National Defence.