Understanding Financial Aid in Post-Secondary
If you’ve decided post-secondary is the path for you, you may be wondering how you’re going to cover the hefty cost. With living expenses, the cost of books, and tuition, the cost of schooling may be more than you can handle on your own. That’s where financial aid comes in. But before you apply, it’s important to understand what exactly financial aid means.
First off, there is more than one way to receive financial aid in post-secondary. While student loans are an excellent and very popular form of financial aid, it isn’t your only option. Let’s take a look at each financial aid option, and break down what exactly it may mean for you.
Let’s start with the most common form of financial aid: student loans. It’s important to understand that student loans vary between institutions, as well as between individual students. While one student may qualify to have his/her entire post-secondary paid for, others may only qualify for a portion of post-secondary coverage, and some may not be eligible at all.
Why is this?
Student loan eligibility depends on a variety of factors. Some of these include:
- If you are a full-time or part-time student.
- How much annual income your household makes.
- If you live on your own, or with your parents.
- If you have any dependants.
- If you are receiving financial aid elsewhere, such as through scholarships and awards.
- If you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a protected person.
How do I check my eligibility, and apply for a student loan?
To check your eligibility for a student loan offered by the government of Canada, visit the Government of Canada website through the link below. If you are eligible, proceed to the next steps to apply for your loan, as listed on the website.
To check your eligibility for a provincial student loan, visit your province’s learning information service’s website.
Student Line of Credit:
A student line of credit allows students to take out a personal loan from the bank while they are in school, in order to cover the cost of their expenses. A student line of credit tends to offer a larger loan amount than a student loan, however, students typically pay monthly interest on the remaining balance. Once you have graduated from post-secondary, students are required to start making payments towards the loan, which includes interest. The interest rate on a student line of credit tends to be quite low, and you may be offered a grace period before you have to start paying it back after graduation. There are several different Canadian banks that offer student lines of credit. Some of these options include:
- Bank of Montreal
- National Bank
- TD Canada Trust
If you are interested in learning more about a student line of credit, your eligibility, and how to apply, call your individual bank to set up an appointment, and speak to your post-secondary’s financial aid office to see if a student line of credit is the right choice for you. More helpful information may be found in the link below.
Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries:
Awards, scholarships and bursaries range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and they do not need to be paid back. They may be offered through your institution, your province, or the government of Canada. To see which apply to you, visit your institutional website, your province’s learning information service’s website, and the government of Canada website.
A myth about awards is that they are subject to academic achievement. Don’t let this myth fool you! Awards are based on things such as leadership skills and volunteer efforts within your community. They may include, but are not limited to, financial need or academic achievement.
Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement. Some scholarships do not require an application form; however, this is not true for all scholarships. Always thoroughly read and follow application instructions for any scholarship to ensure you are meeting the application requirements.
A bursary is a monetary grant that is given based off financial need, and satisfactory academic achievement.