Student Loan Programs for Canadians

Student Loan Programs for Canadians

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated February 27, 2023

The cost of education in Canada is greatly subsidized by the Canadian Government and is far more affordable than our neighbour, the United States. However, this doesn’t mean education is free or even affordable for many Canadians. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, the average amount of student debt accumulated at the time of graduation for an undergraduate degree is $28,000. 

If you’re currently looking to pursue a degree, it’s important to be aware of all the available student loan programs in your province.

Are There Student Loan Companies In Canada You Can Use To Finance Your Education?

Both the government and private student loan companies offer students various student loan programs to finance their education. Here are some of the student loan programs offered by the federal government of Canada: 

Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP)

The CSLP is a student loan program offered to all Canadians (except in Québec, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories) in need of a loan for education purposes. Essentially, the loans are given on a financial need basis; the Canadian government pays the interest to the financial institution on the loan until graduation. In 2013-2014 almost half of a million loans were given to full-time students in need.

Are You Eligible For The CSLP?

To be eligible for this program you must be:

  •  A Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (in any of the provinces eligible)
  • You must be enrolled in a post-secondary education institution
    • For a part-time loan, you must be enrolled in at least 20% of a full-time course load. 
    • For a full-time loan, you must be enrolled in at least 60% of a full course load. 
  • If you are 22 or older you must pass a credit check. Don’t know what your credit score is? Check your credit score for free using Compare Hub.

Benefits Of CSLP

  • No Payment Grace Period – These loans do not require any payment for up to 6 months after graduation and the interest only starts to accumulate upon graduation.
  • Fixed or Variable Interest Rates – The program offers students either a fixed interest rate of prime rate +5% or a floating rate of primate rate +2.5%. 

Drawbacks Of The CSLP

The loans offered to students in Canada are limited; in fact, undergraduate students are eligible to receive interest-free assistance for only up to 340 weeks and graduate students up to 400 weeks. Once these time periods are up, interest on the loan will start accumulating and payment will be required.

Canada Student Grant Program

This program offers many Canadian students grant based on their financial needs. Income and family size are also considered when settling on the amount given to students. 

Generally, the grants are awarded as follows: 

  • $250 per month of study for students from low-income families
  • $100 per month of study for students from middle-income families. 

For students with disabilities or students who have children, the program offers different grants for every need. The Canadian student grant program does not require its recipients to repay any of the money they receive. This makes it a great option for students who come from low-income families.

Are You Eligible For The Student Grant Program?

The requirements for the student grant program are very similar to the requirements of the student loan program. The student grant program is available for part-time and full-time students. Being able to prove that you are financially in need of help is the most important part.

If you are a student in need do not hesitate to contact or to visit the website of the Canadian Government and apply for this program. Investing in yourself is the first step to take if you’re looking to change your lifestyle and transform your future.

Provincial Student Loan Programs

If you are given a limited grant from the federal government or are denied entirely, your province or territory may offer you some financial support. Here is a brief breakdown of what each province and territory offers qualifying students:

ProvinceStudent Financial Programs
OntarioOntario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)Learn More
QuebecAide financiere aux etudesLearn More
AlbertaAlberta Learning Information Service (ALIS)Learn More
British ColumbiaStudentAidBCLearn More
New BrunswickStudent Financial ServicesLearn More
ManitobaManitoba Student AidLearn More
Nova ScotiaNova Scotia Student Assistance DepartmentLearn More
Prince Edward IslandPEI Student Financial ServicesLearn More
Newfoundland and LabradorNewfoundland and Labrador Student AidLearn More
SaskatchewanSaskatchewan Student AidLearn More
Northwest TerritoriesNWT Student Financial AssistanceLearn More
Yukon TerritoryYukon Student Financial AssistanceLearn More

Student Loan Companies

There are several ways to access financing to cover the cost of post-secondary education tuition besides government-issued student loan programs. You can apply for student loans with student loan companies, or in other words student loan lenders. Through these lenders, you can get a personal loan or line of credit to finance your education.  

Student Personal Loans 

You can use the funds from a personal loan to cover the cost of post-secondary education and school-related expenses. Personal loans are installment loans that are made for anywhere between $1,000 to $50,000. Loan terms range from 1 to 7 years, and interest rates vary from 2.00% to 46.96%.

The rate and loan amount you can qualify is based on your income, debt, and credit score. If you opt for a shorter loan term, you’ll pay much less interest over time, though your installment payments will be higher. Conversely, longer loan terms mean smaller installment payments, but you’ll pay a lot more interest over the life of the loan. 

Student Lines of Credit

A student line of credit works a little differently than a traditional loan. Instead, it works somewhat like a credit card. 

With a student line of credit, you’ll have access to a certain credit limit. You can borrow from this credit account as often as you wish, as long as your withdrawals do not exceed the limit. 

Interest is charged on the withdrawn amount. Once you withdraw from your account, you’re automatically required to make monthly payments. Once you repay the borrowed funds, you no longer pay interest until you draw from the account again. 

Credit limits are typically higher for full-time students compared to those studying on a part-time basis. Amounts usually range from $10,000 to $20,000 per year based on the type of degree you’re pursuing, such as a diploma, degree, master’s, or doctorate. 

How To Apply For Financing With Student Loan Companies?

To apply for a student loan with the government or student loan companies, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Create An Account 

If you choose to apply with the government, you’ll need to first create an account. Go online to the website of your province or territory’s student aid office to get started.

If you choose to apply with a lender, simply visit the lender’s website to fill out an online application. 

Step 2: Fill Out the Application Online

Whether you apply with the government or a regular lender, you’ll need to complete the application and include these basic pieces of information about yourself:

Step 3: Input Details About Your Post-Secondary Studies

Add information about your program, such as: 

  • School’s name
  • Program name
  • Program length
  • Cost of tuition and supplies

Step 4: Add Your Financial Information

Both the lender and student aid office will need to know about your financial situation to determine how much you are eligible for, such as:

  • Your income level
  • Your debt level
  • If you plan to work while in school
  • Where you’ll live while attending school

Step 5: Submit Your Application

Review your application carefully to ensure all information is accurate. If it looks good, submit it. Some websites might give you a quick estimate of your funding shortly after submission, while others could take days or even weeks. 

The sooner you apply, the better.

Step 6: Get Your Funding Decision

Once your application has been reviewed your application, you’ll be notified of the official amount you’re eligible for. You may need to provide your bank account information for direct deposits and for loan repayment withdrawals. You’ll then receive the funds in one lump sum. 

Student Loan Companies FAQs

Can I get a student line of credit?

Student lines of credit are available to both part-time and full-time post-secondary students. They’re available from banks and credit unions, and the funds can be used to cover tuition, textbooks, and other school-related expenses. Students can access the funds whenever needed, and once the funds are repaid, the line of credit can be accessed again and again. 

Can I get a non-government student loan?

Most post-secondary students apply for government-issued student loans, as they may be easier to get and come with lower rates and more favourable terms. However, private student loans are also available. These are issued by banks, credit unions, alternative online lenders, and private lenders.  That said, private student loans may be more difficult to get approved for, as the lender may require that you meet more stringent lending criteria. To increase the odds of private student loan approval, many students add a co-signer to the loan agreement, usually from parents. 

When are student loans due?

Students do not need to make any loan payments while in school. Upon graduation, students are typically given a grace period of 6 months before repayment is required.  After this grace period ends, graduates must start making regular payments towards repaying the loan. Depending on the loan type, interest may start to accrue during the grace period, though no payments are required.

How to pay back CSLP?

The first payment on a student loan is only required 6 months after graduation. Though the interest will start accumulating upon graduation. The payment method can vary depending on the established repayment structure with the loan provider. Though a monthly payment structure is usually the most common form.  

Final Thoughts On Student Loan Companies

Student loans can make it possible for many Canadians to attend a post-secondary education facility, given the sky-high cost of college and university tuition. Students can get access to financing assistance both from the federal or provincial governments. Otherwise, many conventional and private lenders offer financing to students to cover post-secondary tuition. 

Rating of 4/5 based on 8 votes.

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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