Financial Aid Available for...

Financial Aid Available for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities in Alberta

by Jingwei Chen
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

In this series of articles, I go across Canada, researching what financial assistance is available for post-secondary students with disabilities. Every province and territory will be covered. This article will cover the funding available to students with disabilities in Alberta, where the post-secondary financial aid office is called Alberta Student Aid.

As you read the article specific to your province or territory, remember that federal financial aid is also available via the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities and the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities. A noteworthy limitation is that students in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Quebec are not eligible to receive these two grants. These three provincial and territory governments have their own distinct financial aid system.

  1. Alberta Grant for Students with Disabilities

Since Alberta is a province where students with disabilities are eligible to receive the two federal grants mentioned above, the Alberta Grant for Students with Disabilities provides financial coverage to students who may not be eligible to receive those grants or have expenses that are not covered by those grants. For example, the Canada Student Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities will not cover costs associated with transportation (parking and fuel)—whereas the Alberta Grant will, provided the student submits clear documentation that they could not have used public transportation.

The Alberta Grant for Students with Disabilities is capped at $3,000 per loan year. Eligibility requirements include documentation of a permanent disability, enrollment in a full-time program, having a calculated financial need of at least $1, and submission of a completed Schedule 4 form. Let me elaborate on two of these requirements.

First, Alberta Student Aid defines full-time studies as enrollment in at least 60% of a full-time course load. For students with disabilities, they may be considered to be full-time students while enrolled in a reduced course load (in other words, in less than 60% of a full-time course load). Alberta Student Aid does not have a reduced cutoff for students with disabilities to have to be considered full-time students for funding purposes. Instead, the organization advises students to contact their disability advisor to determine that. In other words, if your school considers you a full-time student while enrolled in three courses per semester, then you are a full-time student in the eyes of Alberta Student Aid. Your full-time or part-time status depends on your school’s specific criteria.

Second, let me take a moment to go over what a Schedule 4 form is. This form gives you information on what kinds of medical documentation are required as proof of disability. For example, if you have a speech-related disability, the only acceptable medical documentation is a speech language pathologist report. In addition, this form is where you will be detail what kinds of services and equipment you may require. This is why Alberta Student Aid advises—before completing the form—that you speak to a disability advisor at your school; they are the best resource to find out what services and equipment the school already has in place for students with disabilities. Therefore, these do not need to be applied for in the Schedule 4 form.

Another reason to speak to a disability advisor is that the Schedule 4 form has a section to indicate a reduced course load. If you will be enrolled in 40 to 59% of a full course load and want to be considered a full-time student for funding purposes, a disability advisor or registrar can complete this section to indicate you are approved for a reduced course load.

In short, it looks like Alberta has only one province-specific financial aid opportunity for students with disabilities. It is important to note that two federal grants are also available to Albertan students. The Alberta Grant for Students with Disabilities is open to full-time students, but before you get discouraged, speak with your disability advisor and see if you can wrangle a reduced course load while still getting full-time student status.


  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/education/grants/disabilities.html
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/education/grants/disabilities-service-equipment.html
  3. https://studentaid.alberta.ca/before-you-apply/types-of-funding/alberta-grants.aspx
  4. https://studentaid.alberta.ca/before-you-apply/eligibility/
  5. https://studentaid.alberta.ca/applying-for-funding/students-with-permanent-disabilities.aspx

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