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Canada Student Loans

The first thought that inadvertently crosses our mind when we hear the word ‘student loan’ is student debt. While it is obvious that a loan will lead to a debt that you must repay, a student loan could just be the fuel to propel your education aspirations that leads you to your dream career.

Let’s face it. Post-secondary education is expensive even for working professionals who might have stashed some savings in the bank. While bank loans can help you pay for college, the steep interest rates, unrealistic repayment plans, and the nightmare of crippling debt are enough to make you steer clear from loans. With Canadian Student Loans, you don’t have to worry about paying a large sum of interest or stress over immediate repayment. 

As a part of the Canada Student Loans and Grants program, the Canadian government offers Student Loans to students pursuing post-secondary education. Also known as Canada Student Loans, these loans are interest-free throughout the period of study. If the mere mention of interest-free loans made you feel optimistic about returning to school, here’s all you need to know about Federal Student Loans.

Who is eligible?

Unlike Canada Student Grants, Federal Student Loans aren’t limited only to students from low-income and mid-income families. In fact, the eligibility criteria to avail Federal Student Loans are plain and simple. Here’s what you need to qualify for Canada Student Loans:

  • You must be a student pursuing post-secondary education, that’s it. Full-time students, part-time students, and students with permanent disabilities are all eligible for federal loans.
  • The college of your choice as well as the study program that you are enrolled in should be supported by Canada Student Loans and Grants.

Next Step

If you are unsure whether the school you’re considering is aided by Canada Student Loans, pick up the phone, or email your school’s career counsellor. A brief conversation with a counsellor could make you aware of several financial aid options offered directly by the school.
  • Students belonging to the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Nunavut are not eligible for Federal Student Loans. If you are residing in any of these provinces, then check out student aid programs offered specifically by their respective provincial governments.

How to Apply

One of the main goals of Canada Student Loans and Grants is to simplify the process of seeking student aid. Instead of filling out multiple forms for each financial aid program that you wish to avail, all you need to do is fill out a single application with your province. 

Based on your program’s tuition fees, your family’s income, the number of dependents, and if you have a permanent disability, the Canada Student Loans and Grants program works along with provincial student aid programs to allocate funds for your college. At first, your application would be assessed for eligibility for federal and provincial grants. You would be eligible for a Federal Student Loan only if you are not qualified to receive a grant or the grant amount is insufficient to cover your education cost.     

How much can you get

Now that you are familiar with the eligibility criteria and application process, it is time to talk about money! How much financial aid can one get from a Canada Student Loans Program?

For the previous school year, the maximum loan amount that a student could receive was $350 per week due to the ongoing COVID crisis. But for the school year of 2021-22, the maximum loan limit has been decreased to $210 per week again. However, the good news is that effective April 1, 2021, interests on student loans have been waived off till March 31, 2023, so you don’t have to worry about accrual of interest on your Canada Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan.

The period for which you can receive the loan is decided by the lifetime limit of Federal Student Loans. A full-time student can get the loan amount for up to 340 weeks whereas a student with a permanent disability can avail the loan for a maximum of 520 weeks. If you are pursuing a doctoral degree, you qualify for receiving a loan for a maximum of 400 weeks.

Maximum loan amount for full-time Students = $210 per week X 340 weeks = $71,400

Maximum loan amount for students with a permanent disability = $210 per week X 520 weeks = $109,000.

National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC)

Once you are eligible for Federal Student Loans, create an account on the National Student Loans Service Centre website. The NSLSC portal allows you to manage all information regarding loans, interest rates, the repayment process, and more. Most importantly, it lets you upload confirmation of enrollment that specifies the duration of the study, and helps you keep the loan interest-free till you complete your course. NSLSC is vital for choosing the interest rates, making one-time payments, and applying for repayment assistance.

Repayment Process

Now let’s tackle the topic that we dread the most! Is the repayment process flexible enough to apply for Canada Student Loans in the first place? Let’s explore:

  •  Interest-free period: As of April 1, 2021, the accrual of interest has been waived off by the federal government till March 31, 2023. Post this period, interest will begin to accrue immediately if you have completed your course or if the duration of your course exceeds the lifetime limit period to receive the loan. However, if your study program is still in progress after Mar 31, 2023, there will be no interest charged on loan disbursed till course completion, provided your course duration is not greater than the lifetime limit period to recieve the loan. Please note that the interest waiver till Mar 31, 2023 is only applicable for Canada Student Loans. You might still accrue interest on provincial loans, for which you can contact the National Student Loan Service Center or the respective authorities in your province.
  • Six-month non-repayment period: Once you graduate from the study program, you will have no loan repayment obligations for six months. This six-month buffer in repayment is allocated for the students to find gainful employment that will help them pay off the debt. Please note that interest on your loan will begin to accumulate immediately after course completion. Other circumstances that could trigger the six-month non-repayment period include leaving school, taking a time off from school, or switching from a full-time program to a part-time program.
  • Repayment after a six-month non-repayment period: The actual repayment period kicks in only six months after graduating from school. The initial loan repayments are used to pay off the interests that were accrued during the six-month non-repayment period.       

Check out our NSLSC page to know more about interest rates and the repayment process.

Other Student Aid Programs

If you are not too keen on relying on Canada Student Loans to fund your post-secondary education, you can check your eligibility to get help from other federal student aid programs like Federal Student Grants, Federal Student Scholarships, and Federal Student Bursaries.

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Student Loans and Grants

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Provincial Funding

Looking for student aid options offered by your local province? Choose your province of residence below to check out provincial funding options such as grants, loans, scholarships, and bursaries.
*All student funding, whether made available privately or through various government branches, is only approved to those who qualify, by the original source of funding. There are many criteria that each candidate must meet to be approved. Schools can only inform you of what may be available.