Financial Assistance Available for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities in Quebec
This is the sixth article in a series examining the financial assistance available to Canadian post-secondary students with disabilities. Due to differences in eligibility criteria, amount available, and the application process, each province and territory is accorded their own piece. In this article, I take a magnifying glass to Quebec.
The first thing you need to be aware of is that: post-secondary students with disabilities in Quebec are not eligible to receive Canada Student Loans and Grants. This means they cannot apply for either the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities nor the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities. In other words, post-secondary students in Quebec do not have access to federal financial aid funding. Unlike the other provinces’ financial aid programs, the one the Quebec government manages is completely separate from the federal government.
The organization responsible for post-secondary student financial aid is called Aide Financière aux Études (AFE). Their homepage may be found at: http://www.afe.gouv.qc.ca/en/. Note that there is a toggle at the top-right of the page, allowing you to switch between either French or English for the site’s language.
Within AFE is a specific program called the Loans and Bursaries Program. AFE is the umbrella organization that oversees student financial aid while the Loans and Bursaries Program provides the actual financial aid. Generally, when you apply for financial aid, you are specifically applying to the Loans and Bursaries Program.
There are no specific grants or bursaries whose eligibility criteria purposely states only students with disabilities may apply. Students with disabilities submit the general Application for Financial Assistance form to the Loans and Bursaries Program like any other student. This form must indicate that you have a major functional disability (for example, severe hearing impairment, severe visual impairment, organic impairment, or motor impairment). A Medical Certificate completed by a health care professional must also accompany your application.
Students with disabilities may access funding from the Loans and Bursaries Program as well as another program called the Allowance for Special Needs Program. Once you are recognized by the Loans and Bursary Program to have a major functional disability, you may receive funding from this second program for different types of expenses like specialized services, paratransit services, special needs housing, and material resources. Note that which types of expenses are covered depends on the specific program (college or university; private or public; in or outside Quebec) you are enrolled in.
Now you may be wondering why I have not mentioned amounts at all in this article. The Loans and Bursaries Program expects each applicant to pay what they can for their own educational expenses, so the amount of assistance you receive will be unique, calculated to your own personal circumstances. This is why I cannot cite any numbers to you in this article. However, the good news is that students with recognized disabilities may receive the full amount as a bursary, not a loan.
The main element I want you remember from this article is that Quebec does things differently. You will not know how much you receive until after your application is processed. The key is to make sure your application is as detailed as possible and submitted as soon as possible.