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Student loans in Canada

15 March 2015 by National Bank
students financial aid

When you’re a student, it’s not easy to have enough income to cover all your expenses… plus your tuition. Fortunately, there is help! Here is an overview of the different types of student financial aid available.

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Student Scholarships

There are many scholarships available to help students who have excellent academic records or a particular profile by supporting their studies. Below, we’ve listed a few of them.

At the College Level

CEGEPs usually offer merit scholarships based on their own criteria in addition to the following scholarships, which are offered at all college-level institutions in Québec.

  • Loran Award – In partnership with 25 Canadian universities, this scholarship is valued at $100,000 over four years for students in high school or CEGEP.
  • F.J.L. Woodcock / Sir Arthur Pearson Scholarship – Students with a visual impairment (less than 20/70 vision after corrections) are eligible. The scholarships amounts vary between $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Monsanto Fund Opportunity Scholarship – This scholarship is intended for students from farming families who study agricultural sciences. This scholarship is valued at $1,500.

At the University Level

Just like colleges, universities offer a wide range of merit scholarships. Here are few that are offered in Québec and Canada.

The following scholarships are applicable to both college and university levels.

Government Student Financial Aid

Government financial aid is a good option, but you have to get started early if you want to receive your funding in time for school to start. Usually, you must submit your application at least six months before your program starts. The main advantage of this aid is that the interest rates are often lower than for student lines of credit. Another advantage is that during your studies, you do not have to pay back either the loan amount or the accrued interest. The government pays the interest during this period.

Once you have completed your studies, you don’t have to start paying back your loans immediately. Although you will now be responsible for the interest payments, you have a period of six months before you have to start to repay your loans. This timeline gives you the possibility of starting more studies if you want to. After six months, you must begin repaying your loans.

Consult the list of student financing solutions offered by the National Bank

In Québec

The Loans and Bursaries Program is intended for post-secondary students as well as individuals pursuing a diploma of vocational studies (DVS). To be eligible, you must be registered in a full-time program.

If you study part-time, you can also be eligible for a student loan per study term thanks to the Loans Program for Part-time Studies. This loan covers accepted expenses like tuition and, if applicable, childcare costs.

By visiting the student financial aid website, you can calculate the amount you could receive using the assessment simulator.

Elsewhere in Canada

In other Canadian provinces, post-secondary students can apply to the Canada Student Loans Program through their provincial governments. This funding is awarded in the form of loans and bursaries based to financial need. To apply, you must be studying full-time. Fill in a form that can be found on the federal government website and submit it to the financial aid program in your province.

Student Loans from Financial Institutions

If you don’t qualify for government financial assistance or if the amount is insufficient, you can also turn to your financial institution, which offers lines of credit specifically for students. The maximum amount of funding that you can receive will be determined by your tuition and program level. The interest rates for this type of student loan are generally higher than for government financial aid, but still lower than credit card rates.

Depending on the program, you may not have to pay back the loan amount during your full-time studies, just make monthly interest payments.

Make an appointment with an advisor at your financial institution to find out more about financial assistance opportunities for students!

Scholarships for International Students in Canada

As an international student in Canada, you are also eligible to obtain financial aid. Because the programs are sometimes private, it’s not always easy to find them. Here are a few resources to help you:

  • International scholarship programs from the Government of Canada: this site lists all of the financial assistance opportunities offered to non-Canadian students by Global Affairs Canada and other ministries of the Canadian federal government. You can even search by country of origin.
  • Excellence scholarships for international students (in Québec): international students can consult this website to find out about scholarship programs for doctoral studies, post-doctoral fellowships, and short research visits or training in various fields.
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships: these scholarships amount to $50 000 per year over three years and are for PhD students.
  • Trudeau Foundation doctoral scholarships: up to 15 scholarships are awarded, each reaching up to $60,000.
  • International Council for Canadian Studies: you can obtain a scholarship of $2,500 per month plus the price of a round-trip plane ticket up to a maximum of $10,000 to complete a research internship at a Canadian university.

Tax Credits for Student Debt

That’s not the end of it: when you finish your studies, you have to pay back your student debts! There is some good news, however; did you know that it is possible to claim a non-refundable tax credit for interest paid on your federal and provincial government student loans? Simply attach proof of interest payments to your income tax return. Each year that you pay interest, your financial institution will provide you with the appropriate documentation.

Putting your financial concerns aside and concentrating on your studies is already a step toward success. Scholarships, loans and other tax credits for students will help you lighten your load. Take advantage of them!

To Find Out More

To apply for student financial aid, visit the AFE website.

The Canadian Student Loan Program also provides aid in the form of loans and grants for post-secondary students who demonstrate financial need.

Did you know that you can claim a non-reimbursable tax credit if you paid the interest on your student loans? Learn more at Revenu Québec.

For more tips and advice to better manage your personal finances, sign up for the National Bank newsletter.

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