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Applying for Canadian Student Loans, Step by Step

Applying for Canadian student loans might be easier than you think, and we’re here to help if you run into any problems. Here’s how applying for financial aid works when you’re a Canadian student.

Step 1:  Find out if you are eligible for a Canada Student Loan.

Step 2: Complete the application. One form is all you need to be assessed for loans and grants. Apply online through the Provincial and Territorial Student Financial Assistance offices.

Application procedures are based on where you are a permanent resident. If you are a permanent resident of OntarioBritish ColumbiaSaskatchewanNew Brunswick, or Newfoundland and Labrador and are applying for Canadian student loans:

  • Complete one application and submit it to your province of permanent residence.
  • You are assessed for both federal and provincial student loans and grants.
  • You may be eligible to receive one loan: a combination of federal and provincial student loans.
  • You manage and repay your student loan through the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC).

If you are a permanent resident of AlbertaManitobaNova Scotia or Prince Edward Island applying for Canadian student loans:

  • Complete one application and submit it to your province of permanent residence.
  • You are assessed for both federal and provincial student loans and grants.
  • You may be eligible to receive two loans: one from the Government of Canada and the other from your provincial government.
  • You manage and repay your loans through two loan providers: the NSLSC website for your Canada Student Loan, and your provincial government’s student financial assistance office or their service provider for your provincial loan.

If you are permanent resident of Yukon applying for Canadian student loans:

  • You apply for a Canada Student Loan through Yukon Student Aid.
  • You are assessed for both federal and territorial grants as well as a Canada Student Loan.
  • You manage and repay your student loan through the NSLSC.

If you are a permanent resident of the Northwest Territories or Nunavut applying for Canadian student loans:

  • You apply to your province or territory of a permanent residence for student loans.
  • Canada Student Loans and Canada Student Grants are not available. These jurisdictions operate their own student loan programs, which are partly funded by the federal government.
  • You manage and repay your student loan to your province or territory of permanent residence.

Please note that student loans are not available to medical students attending outside of Quebec.

Need help? Contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office. Note: You must reapply for a Canada Student Loan every school year.

Step 3: Check your mail or email for your Notice of Assessment. Your Notice of Assessment will tell you if you qualified for a loan or grant. You may receive it by mail or email.

If you qualified, you may get a Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA). You must read, sign, and return it to the NSLSC along with your banking information.

If you are not approved for funding or you are not happy with the approved amount, you’ll need to contact the student financial assistance office in your province or territory. There is a formal reassessment process for students who disagree with the amount they have been awarded. Amounts can be reassessed according to your province’s or territory’s own criteria and those of the federal government.

Step 4: Review your loan documents and confirm enrollment with your school. If you are approved, consider your MSFAA to be a legally binding contract. It’s important that you review it carefully and read the terms and conditions. Check your personal information and include your banking information and a voided cheque if you want your money to be deposited directly into your bank account.

The MSFAA is a multiyear agreement. The next time you apply for student financial assistance, you won’t have to sign and submit a new MSFAA. Just complete and submit an application through your province of residence and wait for your Notice of Assessment to come by mail or online.

Step 5: Sign your student loan documents. Make sure you fully understand your responsibilities and commitments before signing. Your loan agreement is a legal document, and your signature means you agree to be bound by its terms and conditions. Once you’re sure that all the information is correct, and you have read and accepted the terms and conditions, sign your agreement.

Step 6: Submit your loan documents. Submit your completed and signed MSFAA. Bring the following identification to a Canada Post outlet:

  • A valid photo identification issued in Canada by the federal or a provincial or territorial government, such as a valid driver’s license, passport, provincial health card with photo, permanent residency/citizenship card, etc.
  • A document proving that the Social Insurance Number (SIN) on your loan or grant authorization document is yours. For example, you can show your SIN card or present an official Government of Canada document that has your SIN on it, such as a Canada Revenue Agency Notice of Assessment, a Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions, a Confirmation of Social Insurance Number from Service Canada, or a temporary SIN card.
  • Bring your signed MSFAA. Don’t forget to attach a voided cheque or fill out your banking information.

That’s it! If everything was done correctly, all you have to do is wait for your money to arrive.

AUA also offers a variety of scholarships, including two awards specifically for Canadian students. Visit our scholarships page for more.