Determine your eligibility


Basic eligibility requirements

To receive student financial assistance, you must meet all of these basic eligibility criteria:

  • be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or have protected person status
  • have a valid Canadian social insurance number that does not start with 0 or 8 (these social insurance numbers are not eligible for StudentAid BC)
  • be a resident of British Columbia
  • be pursuing full-time studies as your primary occupation
  • be enrolled in an eligible program of study at an eligible post-secondary institution
  • be able to demonstrate financial need
  • make academic progress and achieve satisfactory scholastic standing in each period of post-secondary study
NOTE: You can only apply to one province for funding.

You may not be eligible if you are:

  • Delinquent or in default of previous student loans.
  • Under audit or have an overaward (in this case your funding may be withheld), or
  • Incarcerated or have any outstanding warrants for your arrest.

B.C. residency requirement

To receive student financial assistance, you must be a resident of B.C. according to the criteria described below. To determine residency, students are classified either as Dependent (Group A) or Independent (Group B). This classification is also used to determine financial need.

If you are classified as Dependent (Group A), your residency is defined as the Canadian province in which your parent(s), step-parent(s), or legal guardian have lived most recently for 12 continuous months.

If your parents are separated or divorced, or if your parent is single, only one parent's financial information is used to calculate financial need. This is the parent who is your main financial supporter.

If you are classified as Independent (Group B), your residency is defined as the Canadian province in which you have lived most recently for 12 continuous months (excluding any time spent in full-time post-secondary study).

Your school eligibility

The first thing you will need to do is check your school designation under StudentAid BC. To receive funding, your school must be deemed eligible. In addition, there is special information if you are attending two schools, if you attend a private institution, or if you are going to school outside of B.C.

Here are some important things to consider before beginning your studies at a private post-secondary school in B.C.

  • Is your school approved?
    Private post-secondary schools in British Columbia are regulated to ensure that standards of integrity and educational competence are met by private institutions offering post-secondary education in B.C.
  • Career training schools
    You can only receive StudentAid BC funding if the private post-secondary school holds a Designated Certificate from the Private Training Institutions Branch, Ministry of Advanced Education, and has been designated by StudentAid BC.
  • Degree granting schools
    Private schools that want to award degrees in B.C. must be approved through the Degree Quality Assessment Board. You can only receive StudentAid BC funding if the private degree-granting school is approved and has been designated by StudentAid BC.
  • Signing an enrolment contract
    Once you have been accepted by a B.C. private post-secondary school that holds a Designated Certificate, you must sign an enrolment contract. Enrolment at a school designated by StudentAid BC requires that you complete this contract.

    The enrolment contract should contain the following information:
    • Name and address of the school.
    • Name of your course or study program.
    • Start date, end date and duration of the course.
    • Cost of the course.
    • Date that the contract is entered into.
    • Name, mailing address and signature of the student or guardian.
    • Signature of the school official.
    • A tuition payment schedule if you are paying by instalments.
    • The school's tuition refund policy.

Attending more than one post-secondary school at the same time is called "split enrolment." In some cases, you can receive StudentAid BC funding for courses taken at the second school.

Before registering at your second school, check with the financial aid office at your "home" school about student assistance options. The home school is the one that will issue your credential at graduation time.

You may be eligible for funding if courses at the second school are:

  • Offered with the same start and end date as those taken at the home school.
  • An essential element of your study program.
  • Counting for credit towards your certificate, diploma or degree at your home school.
  • Either not offered by your home school or are full.

Your second school must be a designated school under StudentAid BC.

Split enrolments involving private vocational/trade schools are not permitted.

Here are some important things to consider before you enrol in a post-secondary school outside of British Columbia or Canada.

Students from a private in-province or out-of-province institution are not eligible for B.C. student loans unless one of the following three things is true:

  • Your distance education program has an equivalent course with an equivalent study period offered on site (at the institution itself).
  • You will earn the same number of academic credits in the same time period as students in other programs eligible for StudentAid BC funding, delivered on site at the same institution.
  • You will earn undergraduate academic credits, in the same amount of time as the same course recognized at another designated institution listed in the B.C. Transfer Guide or other acceptable joint agreements from other jurisdictions.

My program is not already approved

If the program is not already approved for B.C. student loan funding, a confirmation of StudentAid BC distance education eligibility form will be mailed to you before your B.C. student loan application is processed.

This must be completed by the financial assistance officer at your school and returned to StudentAid BC for you to be considered for B.C. student loan funding.

Your financial need

StudentAid BC funding varies according to your financial situation, status, length of study program, number of dependants and other factors.

The amount of money you receive from StudentAid BC depends on your financial need, which is calculated using this formula:

Educational costs
- Student Resources
= Financial need

We subtract your total resources from your total educational costs to calculate your assessed financial need.

Your assessed need is then compared with the maximum weekly funding limit allowed for your study period. The lesser of these two amounts is what you are eligible to receive. Your application is subject to both a federal need assessment calculation based on Canada Student Loans Program policies regarding income and assets, and a provincial need assessment calculation based on StudentAid BC policies regarding income and assets.


Educational costs:

  • tuition, fees, books and school supplies
  • moderate standard of living allowance for shelter, food, transportation and miscellaneous costs
  • child/dependant living expenses
  • day-care expenses

Student resources:

You are expected to contribute as much as possible to the cost of your own post-secondary education. The more you contribute from your own resources, the less you will have to borrow and repay.

What you are expected to contribute

The financial contribution expected from you will vary depending on your total savings, income earned, or other financial resources. This money must be used to help meet your educational costs.

Your application is subject to both a federal need assessment calculation based on Canada Student Loans Program policies regarding income and assets, and a provincial need assessment calculation based on StudentAid BC policies regarding income and assets.

If you are classified as a Group A (dependent) student, StudentAid BC may also expect a parental contribution from your parent(s), step-parent, or legal guardian.

If you are married or living common-law, a spouse/partner contribution may also be expected.

Federal government policy states that "parents are expected to plan for and make adequate financial preparation in anticipation of the student's post-secondary education. It is expected that the funding of the student's education will be a priority for the family. Situations that arise due to a lack of preparation or due to the directing of resources towards priorities other than the student's education will not normally be considered."

What your parents are expected to contribute

If you are a Group B (independent) student, no parental contribution is expected. However, if you are receiving money from your parents, you should declare this on your loan application.

If you are a Group A (dependent) student, a financial contribution may be expected from your parent(s), step-parent, or legal guardian. We will assess the amount based on family size, income and allowable deductions (such as income taxes payable, Canada Pension Plan contributions and employment insurance contributions).

Your parents' financial assets (term deposits, stocks, bonds, GICs, bank accounts and rental properties) will also be considered in the assessment.

Because the assessment process is complex, you are encouraged to contact us if you need more information about parental contributions.

If you are married or living common-law, your spouse or partner may be expected to make a financial contribution toward your education while you are attending post-secondary school if they earn an income.

If your spouse/partner is also attending school full-time, or is at home caring for your children under 12 years of age, no minimum spouse/partner contribution is expected.

Assets owned by you and your spouse/partner will be considered in determining your need for student funding.

There are many sources of funding to finance your post-secondary education. They include:

  • Scholarships, grants and awards administered by StudentAid BC.
  • Other scholarships, bursaries and awards - check with your school for upcoming opportunities and deadlines.
  • Direct loans from banks and credit unions.
  • Financial support from community organizations and service clubs.
  • Part-time employment.
  • Family resources.
  • For more information visit the explore funding options section.

Maximum funding limits

There are weekly and lifetime maximum funding limits that you should be aware of. Not all students receive the maximum amount.

2016/2017 weekly maximums

  • If you have dependant children, you can receive up to $510 per week in combined loan and grant funding.
  • If you do not have dependant children, you can receive up to $320 per week of full-time study.

The total amount you receive is determined by the length of your study period.

The following table shows the maximum amount and duration of StudentAid BC funding and interest-free status that you can receive over your lifetime.

Funding type $ limit Time limit
Canada student loan (non-doctoral) 340 weeks (80 months)
Canada student loan (doctoral) 400 weeks (94 months)
Canada student loan (persons with permanent disabilities or received loans prior to August 1,1995) 520 weeks (120 months)
B.C. student loan (non-doctoral) $50,000 340 weeks (80 months)
B.C. student loan (doctoral) $50,000 400 weeks (94 months)
B.C. student loan (persons with permanent disabilities) $50,000 520 weeks (120 months)
Canada and B.C. interest-free loan (non-doctoral) 340 weeks (80 months)
Canada and B.C. interest-free loan (doctoral) 400 weeks (94 months)
Canada and B.C. interest-free loan (persons with permanent disabilities or received loans prior to August 1, 1995) 520 weeks (120 months)

Exceptions

If you received StudentAid BC funding between Aug. 1, 2000, and July 31, 2006, you are eligible for either $35,000 in B.C. student loans (regardless of program length) or up to 340 weeks of interest-free status, whichever comes first. If you have received less than $35,000 in B.C. student loans by July 31, 2006, your StudentAid BC loan lifetime maximum is $50,000.

In certain circumstances, you can request a review for funding beyond the maximum lifetime limit for StudentAid BC loans. Contact StudentAid BC or your financial aid office for more information on how to appeal, or see appeal category 5 - B.C. student loan lifetime maximum. There is no appeal mechanism for Federal funding beyond the maximum number of weeks.

Once the maximum number of weeks is reached, interest on your Canada-B.C. integrated student loan begins to accumulate but if you remain in continuous full-time studies, you may apply for payment deferral. During the payment deferral period, you are not required to begin repayment until the completion of your studies, as long as confirmation of enrolment is received and approved by the National Student Loan Service Centre (NSLSC). All interest that has accumulated, unless paid, will be added to the principal amount of your outstanding loan balance. You are required to start making payments six months after the completion of your full-time studies.

There is additional information on interest-free status and maximum weeks.