How to Apply for a Canada Student Loan and Canada Student Grant

If you are applying for a Canada Student Loan or grant, it is important to follow correct procedures. You should also know what you might be eligible for.

Student loans in Canada are administered by the Canada Student Loans program, under the auspices of Human Resources Development Canada (HRSDC). Through these loans, the Canadian government will give both loans and grants to post-secondary students, provided that they can prove financial need.

Provincial and Territorial Student Loans

The first step in applying for a Canada Student Loan is to make an application for a territorial of provincial student loan. Once you have applied for one of these loans, you will be automatically considered for a Canada Student Loan, without making a further application. The exceptions to this rule are students from Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, as their governments do not participate in the Canada Student Loan program. Quebec, Nunavut and the NWT have their own student loan programs, so students who live in those jurisdictions will deal only with those particular governments.

Application Forms

Student loan application forms are available at the financial aid offices of post secondary institutions. They can also be found at territorial as well as provincial student assistance offices throughout Canada, and at HRSDC offices. It is necessary to obtain the application forms and make a fresh application each year.


In order to qualify for a Canada Student Loan or Grant, you must meet these criteria:

  • You must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a protected person.
  • You must be able to show financial need.
  • You must pass a credit check if you are applying for the first time and are older than 22 years of age.
  • You must not have exceeded your maximum lifetime limit of Canada Student Loans.
  • You must be already enrolled in a degree, certificate or diploma programme that goes on for at least 12 weeks in a 15 week period and is offered by a designated school.
  • You must be a legal resident of a province or territory that participates in the Canada Student Loan program.
  • You must be taking, as a minimum, 20 % of a full course load if you are applying as a part-time student.
  • You must be taking at a minimum, 60% of a full course load if you are applying as a full time student.
  • You must achieve and sustain satisfactory grades to be able to receive subsequent student loans after the first year.

Lifetime Limits for Canada Student Loans

There are four categories for lifetime limits of Canada Student Loans. If you have exceeded these limits you will not be considered for a loan. The categories are:

  • Loan applicants with a permanent disability are able to receive Canada Student Loans for up to 520 weeks, maximum.
  • Applicants who were awarded Canada Student Loans prior to August 1, 1995, may receive loans for up to 520 weeks.
  • Applicants enrolled in full time studies, who received loans on or after August 1, 1995, are able to receive loans for up to 340 weeks.
  • Loan applicants who are enrolled in full time doctoral studies may receive loans for up to 400 weeks.

Canada Student Grants

Unlike student loans, Canada Student Grants do not have to be repaid. Therefore, they are an extremely helpful resource to students with financial concerns. They are usually awarded to students two times each year: at the start of the academic year and approximately half way through. You do not have to make a separate application for a grant. When you submit your original Canada Student Loan application, you will automatically be considered for a number of grants. Furthermore, you may be able to receive more than one of them. The grants are for:

  • Equipment and services if you are permanently disabled.
  • Students with permanent disabilities.
  • If you come from a middle income family.
  • If your family is low income.
  • If you have legal dependents.
  • If you are studying part time.
  • If you are studying part time and have legal dependents.


Canada has a comprehensive student loan programme. While the programme doesn’t pertain to every province and territory, it is evenly applied in all of the jurisdictions where it is administered.

Editorial Staff

Noah is a PhD student in modern European history who loves to find time for travel, learning new languages, and exploring the food in her New York City neighborhood.

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