Financial Aid Available for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities in Manitoba
The first thing you should know is that Manitoba’s financial aid office is called Manitoba Student Aid. The homepage can be found at: http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/msa/index.html. Note that while you may apply for financial aid either online or via a paper application, you are encouraged to use the former. Not only is an online application processed faster (two weeks as opposed to five to twelve weeks for a paper application), paper applications may only be submitted under very specific circumstances. Having an online account also gives you a personalized list of the documentation required. For all these above reasons, I encourage students, with and without disabilities, to apply online: https://web33.gov.mb.ca/sao/app/en/newUser.
- Manitoba Bursary
Students in Manitoba are automatically considered for the Manitoba Bursary when they submit an application to Manitoba Student Aid. Per academic year (August 1st to July 31st), eligible students can receive a maximum of $2,000. Half of this bursary will be released at the start of your program and half released when you are midway through.
Note that this bursary is not exclusive to students with disabilities—but wait! Don’t stop reading! Let’s tick off all the good things. One, there is no separate application! When you apply for financial aid, this is one of the funding opportunities you are automatically considered for! Two, this is a bursary, which means you do not have to pay it off. Three, beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, eligibility considerations for this bursary has been expanded to include Manitoba students attending Canadian schools outside Manitoba as well as private religious schools within the province.
In my research, I discovered that there are no provincial financial aid resources specifically available to students with disabilities. The good news is that Manitoba is one of the nine provinces and one territory that enjoy access to student assistance at the federal level. The government of Canada offers two grants specifically to students with disabilities.
Now you may be wondering that you might have to apply to both Manitoba Student Aid and the Government of Canada, let me clarify that you are half-right. When you apply to Manitoba Student Aid, you are applying for both provincial and federal funding. Usually, you submit one application—to Manitoba Student Aid—and you will be considered for assistance from both your province and your country. The exception lies with these two federal grants: you will still apply to Manitoba Student Aid (not to the federal government directly) and you will need to complete a separate application form.
The two federal grants are called Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities. I cover them in depth in a previous article, but I will give you a brief overview here.
- Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
Eligible students must be enrolled in either full-time and part-time studies, be assessed to need at least $1 of financial assistance, and have a medical certificate or similar document attesting to your disability. Per academic year, you could receive up to $2,000.
- Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities
This grant has the same eligibility criteria as the other federal grant. Additional criteria include written documentation attesting to needing exceptional services and equipment as part of your education. Furthermore, you are required to provide exact costs of these services and equipment. Per academic year, you could receive up to $8,000.
Students with disabilities in Manitoba should be aware that there are no provincial financial assistance geared towards them specifically. Federal assistance, however, is available—though be aware that there are separate applications for the federal grants that, counter-intuitively, should be submitted still to Manitoba Student Aid.