Federal Financial Aid Available for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities
There is no question that paying for post-secondary education is difficult. For students with disabilities, this financial barrier can be exacerbated by costs associated with their own individual needs. This is not right. Equitable access to education is everyone’s right in Canada, and so there are financial assistance programs intended to support students with disabilities on their path to post-secondary education and the associated benefits it brings to later life and career.
This first article in a series will feature financial assistance available to students across Canada. All of these programs are accessible to any eligible student because they are provided by the federal government. Information on eligibility and how to apply will be included for each financial aid program.
- Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
The Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities provides up to $2,000 per year to qualifying students in both undergraduate and graduate programs. One broad restriction is that students with disabilities from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Quebec are not eligible. (The reason is that these places have their separate financial aid arrangement.) If you are not a resident of these province and territories, you are eligible as long as you qualify for student financial assistance, are registered for full-time or part-time studies, and have documentation verifying you have a permanent disability.
The application process depends on your province or territory’s student financial assistance office. For a complete list of offices and their contact information, go to https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/education/provincial-offices.html.
- Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities
Available to both full-time and part-time post-secondary students with permanent disabilities, this grant ensures students can access education by being able to purchase education-related services and equipment. Examples include note-takers, tutors, interpreters, and technical aid. Tuition and textbooks are also expenses that are covered. A maximum of $8,000 is available per year to eligible students of both undergraduate and graduate levels. Up to $1,200 of the grant may be used to partially pay for a Learning Disability Assessment.
Eligibility requirements are the same as the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities, in addition to requiring students to provide two pieces of written documentation. The first must indicate what services and/or equipment is needed and must be from a person who is certified to determine this (for example, a counsellor in the disability services office of your school). The second is a statement of how much the services and/or equipment will cost. To apply for this grant, students are advised to contact the disability advisor at their school to first be assessed for what will be required to allow equitable access to education. He or she can then help you complete the application form found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/education/grants/disabilities.html.
In general, the federal government provides grants partially covering education costs, including tuition fees, textbooks, and services and equipment customized for a differently-abled student’s needs. Totaling up to $10,000, these grants are the opposite of loans, so you do not have to repay them. These grants are also available per school year for both undergraduate and graduate levels of education, ensuring students with disabilities are supported throughout their post-secondary journey.