Frequently Asked Questions about Student Loans
How do I apply for a loan?
Information on who is eligible and how to apply for a loan can be found on the Government Programs section of our website.
How much will I get?
The amount of assistance you receive can only be determined after you have submitted an application, and will depend on your personal and family situation. Each student's application is subject to both a federal need assessment calculation based on Canada Student Loan Program policies regarding income and other resources, and a provincial need assessment calculation based on provincial policies regarding income and other resources.
The need assessment calculation considers three main types if resources:
- Student expected contribution:
- Fixed student contribution based on either the student or total family income of previous year's Line 150 of the General Income Tax and Benefit Return
- Merit-based scholarships and/or needs-based bursaries in excess of $1800
- Targeted resources such as: Government, institution, or private funding that is targeted toward education costs or volunteered (parent, family, self) income
- Spousal expected contribution:
- Contribution based on total family income of previous year's Line 150 of the General Income Tax and Benefit Return
- Parental expected contribution:
- Contribution based on a formula assessing total family income of previous year's Line 150 of the General Income Tax and Benefit Return
- From assets, parental expected contribution is calculated as one percent of the total net value of all eligable assets (excluding RRSPs, motor vehicles, principal residence and business/farm assets, vehicles or household items), in excess of a standard exemption on $150,000
How long will it take to get my loan?
Processing times will vary depending on the time of year and the type of application you submit.
Notification of assessment
For British Columbia applicants, a Notification of Assessment (NOA) letter is posted to your StudentAid BC dashboard account after your StudentAid BC full-time application has been assessed.
Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement
If you are approved for full-time funding through StudentAid BC you need to complete and agree to the Terms and Conditions of the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA). The MSFAA is a legal agreement between you, the Province of British Columbia, and the Canada Student Loans Program about borrowing and repaying your student loans.
The MSFAA is a multi-year agreement so you won't have to submit a new agreement every time you apply for funding through StudentAid BC.
Confirm your enrolment
After your MSFAA has been processed by the NSLSC and before your student loan and/or grant money can be released, your school must confirm that you are enrolled in an eligible, full-time post-secondary program for the entire study period for which you have been awarded funding. If the loan is confirmed you should expect to receive your funds within 10 business days
Note: You will not receive any money prior to your start date.
For example: Your loan is processed and confirmed by your school on August 15. You will not receive your first disbursement until the start date of September 5.
How do I apply for grants and bursaries without applying for the loan?
In general, you must apply for a student loan in order to be considered for the grants and bursaries available. If you are approved for a student loan, your assessment will outline how much you are eligible to receive in grant and loan money. You must accept your full amount, including both the loan and grant amounts, to receive the grant monies.
There is no penalty for paying back your loan before the repayment period.
What happens if I add or drop a course?
If you are planning to drop a class it is highly recommended that you contact Student Awards & Financial Aid. We can review your schedule and let you know if dropping that class would impact your assessment.
If you drop below 60 percent course load (40 percent for students with a permanent disability; 80 percent for students receiving Quebec or Newfoundland student loans) your student loan will be affected. Please see Withdrawals, Technical and Unofficial Withdrawals and Drop Below 60 Percent Withdrawal under the Student Loan General Information section on this website.
My refund has been sent to the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC) — is my overaward cleared?
No. Students who are enrolled in post-secondary studies or are in a non-repayment (grace) period need to advise StudentAid BC an amount has been paid to the NSLSC. This can be done by printing an account statement showing the payment from your NSLSC online account and sending it to StudentAid BC along with a note advising the payment be applied to your overaward. Log in to your NSLSC online account or register for online services at National Student Loan Service Centre.
Why is my family expected to pay?
Government student assistance programs are designed to supplement, not replace, family resources. If you do not qualify as independent according to government guidelines, then your parents' income will be assessed to determine if a contribution is expected. If you are married or common-law, your spouse's income will be reviewed in a similar manner. In all instances, the government will also look at how many other dependents are in the family.
How early should I apply for my government student aid?
We recommend two months before your fees are due or you require the funds.
However, if your Master Student Loan Agreement is already on file from a prior application and you do not encounter any assessment delays, you can receive funding as quickly as two weeks after applying.
What happens if I discontinue or withdraw from the university?
Withdrawal occurs when you drop below 60 percent of a full-course load (40 percent for students with disabilities; 80 percent for students recieving Quebec or Newfoundland student loans) or when a student withdraws from their study program, regardless of the reason.
I am taking a class (or more) at another post-secondary institution, how does this affect my student loan?
Please see StudentAid BC Funding and Split Enrolment in the Student Loan General Information section on this website.
I still have an amount owing on my account, why didn't my student loan pay for everything?
Sometimes, a student loan does not cover the full amount of tuition so be sure to read your assessment letter carefully as it will outline how much assistance you will receive. Also, see the WorkStudy Program, External Funding and Financial Advising.
If I'm living away from home, am I considered independent for government student aid purposes?
The government does not grant independent status simply because a student is living away from home. To qualify as independent, you must be out of high school four or more years, be married or common-law, have dependent children, or have worked full-time for two twelve-month periods.
Is there a maximum amount of money my parents can earn before I am not eligible to receive a student loan?
For help with an estimate of expected parental contribution, please see the CanLearn Parental Contribution Calculator.
How will I know if my student aid application has been approved?
The Ministry of Advanced Education will send you a Notification of Award explaining your assessment. However, you can also check the Ministry website at: studentaidbc.ca, or call their toll-free line at 1-800-561-1818. If you have a problem with either of these, call TRU Student Awards & Financial Aid. Allow four weeks from the time of submitting your application before trying to find out about your award.
What if I am approved for a student loan then don't get into my program or decide not to return to school?
This is not a problem, provided you officially cancel your application and return any loans or grants which you may have received for that study period. There is no penalty for cancelling a student loan application.
I moved from outside of British Columbia; where do I apply for a student loan?
If you are considered a dependent of your parents, you apply through the province in which they reside. If you are considered independent and have lived in British Columbia for less than 12 consecutive months (excluding months of full-time study) prior to the start of your study period, you would also apply through your original province or territory.
I'm halfway through the semester and I haven't applied for a student loan, can I still apply?
Yes. Typically you can submit a complete application up until six weeks before your study period ends. The process can take a few weeks so don't leave it until the last minute. You will still be assessed for the entire semester, not just from the date you apply. You will also receive the full amount based on the same time period.
If I'm not applying for a student loan this year, do I have to start repaying my loan?
For StudentAid BC loans see the Interest Free Status in the Student Loan General Information section on this website.