Understanding Student Loans
Student loans and grants are a great way to help you pay for your post-secondary education. Help is available to you to help understand your responsibilities and avoid financial difficulty.
- Applying for Loans and Grants
- Your Government Student Loan and Grant Commitments
- Tips for Managing your Student Loans
Applying for Loans and Grants
- Send your loan applications to your province or territory of permanent residence.
- When you apply for a Canada Student Loan, you will automatically be assessed for any Canada Student Grants you may be eligible for.
- You have to submit an application for loans and grants for every year of study. If you do not apply for financial assistance during one year of study, your educational institution needs to sign a confirmation of enrolment.
- The amount of your student loan and grant is based on your assessed financial need, which is different for each student. Try out the Student Financial Assistance Estimator to get an idea of how much federal financial assistance you might be eligible for.
- Normally, it takes about four to six weeks for an application to be assessed by your province or territory of permanent residence. Online applications are often processed more quickly.
- Many provinces and territories have a formal reassessment process for students who disagree with their assessed loan amount. Find out more about getting reassessed.
- While there are exceptions, you normally get two disbursements of money in a year, depending on when you apply: one 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.
- 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.
Your Government Student Loan and Grant Commitments
- You agree to keep your loan providers up to date. For federal loans, notify the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC)Contact Information of any change in your contact information, program of study, or course load. See Managing Student Loans for more information.
- Each year, a number of student borrowers are randomly selected for audit. If your application is chosen, the information you provided will be checked for completeness and truthfulness. Penalties are applied where appropriate. Find out more about managing student loans.
- Governments don’t charge interest on student loans for full-time or part-time students while they are in-study. Interest starts to accumulate beginning the month after you graduate or leave school (or in the case of loans for full-time studies, if you switch from full-time to part-time), but payments begin six months later.
- You can start making loan payments while you are still in school. These payments go directly toward the loan principal, which will reduce the overall amount more quickly.
Tips for Managing your Student Loans
- Learn more about the interest rates for Canada Student Loans.
- It’s a good idea to keep a file of all of the documents you used in your student loan application, including a working copy of your application.
- Create an online student loan account with the NSLSC. You can access information about your loans, change your mailing address and view other personal account information.
- Include your loan account number on all correspondence with the NSLSC.
- Borrow wisely. Make sure you are aware of how much you are borrowing, and never borrow more than you think you need.
- Keep track of who issues you the money—they are the ones you will need to pay back once you have finished school.
- Ask for help at the first sign of difficulty in paying back your loans. Contact the NSLSC if you have any questions.