Student Financial Assistance (SFA)
In Canada, the different levels of government offer student financial assistance (SFA) with interest rates that are generally lower than those offered by other types of financing. Not only that, but they also take care of repaying the interest while you’re in school as well.
And there’s more good news: You can wait up to six months after graduating before you start repaying the principal and interest on your loan. What’s more, the interest you pay is tax-deductible throughout the loan repayment period.
In some cases, it’s even possible to benefit from certain flexible options, such as 15% debt forgiveness or deferred repayment.
Apply for financial assistance at least six months before the start of your studies to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria.
Student financial assistance (external link) is provided through two main programs:
- The first, the Loans and Bursaries for Full-time Studies program enables you to pursue post-secondary studies or take vocational training (also commonly known as a DEP in French or “diplôme d’études professionnelles”). However, as the program’s name indicates, you must be a full-time student to qualify.
- Are you a part-time student? If so, the Part-Time Education Loan program may be right for you. This type of loan is granted per study semester and can cover your tuition fees in addition to childcare costs if needed.
In the rest of Canada
Perhaps the most popular form of financial assistance is the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program (external link). It offers full- and part-time study grants and loans to Canadian students pursuing post-secondary education.
To access this program, you must apply in your province or territory. Visit this Canadian government page to learn more about the application process.
You can get more information on the various financial assistance
options available to you through the Canadian government website
→ Student aid
Speaking of taxes, did you know that it’s essential to file your income tax return every year? Students with little or no income must also file an income tax return with both levels of government. By doing so, you’ll be able to claim the federal GST credit and the Quebec solidarity tax credit.
Scholarships and bursaries
In addition to government financial assistance for studies, there are many scholarships and bursaries that, unlike loans, don’t have to be repaid.
Some are specific to a particular field of study, such as the Excellence scholarships for students in education programs (external link) or the Bourses pour les internats en psychologie (external link, in French only) for psychology interns. Others, such as scholarships for excellence, are awarded directly by educational institutions.
Check with the college or university you’d like to attend to find out which ones might apply to you. Here are a few possibilities to get you started.
At the college level
Other awards and scholarships are open to students from all over the province. Here are two you should know about:
- Offered in partnership with 25 Canadian universities, the Loran Award (external link) provides recipients with up to $100,000 over four years.
- Is your college far from where you live? Parcours pour la mobilité étudiante scholarships (external link) give you up to $7,500 for the duration of your program (two to three years) to help cover expenses related to studying further away.
At the university level
In addition to scholarships for excellence, you may be eligible for other types of scholarships, including the following two:
- If you’re doing research at a Quebec educational institution, consider applying for a grant from the Fonds de recherche du Québec (external link).
- Are you a graduate student? Then the Mackenzie King Scholarships, worth $8,500, might be for you.
At the college and university levels
Other bursaries and scholarships are aimed at specific groups.
- To encourage future students to enrol in programs in sectors where there are labour shortages, the Quebec government has set up the Québec Perspective Scholarships (external link). Check to see if your program is eligible.
- Are you Indigenous? Indspire’s program of scholarships, bursaries and awards for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students (external link) is for you.
- If you’re visually impaired, you could benefit from one of the four to six scholarships the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (external link) awards each year.
For international students in Canada
Have you chosen to study in Canada? You are certainly eligible for some of the scholarships and programs listed above.
You can also access financial assistance resources specifically for international students (external link). These include the Quebec government’s merit scholarships for international students. Several other financial assistance resources are available too.
To help you in your search, the international scholarships for non-Canadians page on EduCanada’s site lists many scholarship opportunities. Use the search tool to view scholarships offered by the Canadian government, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations.
For those pursuing postgraduate studies, there are several scholarship programs available:
- The merit scholarship program for foreign students (PBEEE) is offered by the Fonds de recherche du Québec. These scholarships cover doctorate research, postdoctoral internships, and short-term research or professional development.
- The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (external link) are worth $50,000 a year for three years.
- The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation doctoral scholarships (external link) can provide you with up to $60,000 annually for three years.
Finally, you may be able to receive financial assistance for your thesis or postdoctoral studies in Canada from the International Council for Canadian Studies (external link).
Good to know
If you wish to combine your studies or internship with travel outside Quebec or Canada, there are programs to help defray the costs. Find out about financial assistance for studies outside Quebec (external link), including the International Mobility and Short-Term Stays Outside Québec Program (external).
These scholarships to support educational stays or activities abroad can range from $750 to $1,000 per month. They cover work experience and research internships, student exchange programs, seminars, colloquia, and educational events recognized by your university.
Student line of credit
If you don’t qualify for any government assistance or scholarships and bursaries, or if the amounts you receive are simply insufficient, consider turning to financial institutions. They offer student lines of credit at lower interest rates than other types of lines.
Depending on your program, you may even only have to repay the monthly interest while you study. You can then repay the loan once you complete your full-time studies.
There are many financial challenges to face during your studies, and the best way to tackle them is by drawing up a monthly budget. This will give you an accurate picture of your various expenses, especially those related to housing and groceries.