With another summer in the books (and was this ever one for the books), we find our heads full of the back-to-school thoughts the end of August brings. Although returning to school may look different for students this year, it can be an exciting time for all, especially those planning to attend post-secondary school. Post-secondary school opens many doors for student’s futures, and but with this, it also opens wallets. So, what better a time to explore the assistance programs available to students to help with these new expenses?


Grants and Loans

There are both grants and loans available to students. A grant is money that you do not need to pay back. You would however pay back a loan, but not until six months after you finish school. Grants and Loans are offered from both provincial and federal governments, both are applied for at the same time on your province of residence’s student assistance website. When applying for a loan, your application is automatically considered for all grants you may be eligible for, so no money is left on the table. Check out the Government of Canada website here for a directory of each provincial student assistance website for more information on what support is available, whether you are eligible, and how to apply. The support available is different for full-time and part-time students, so make sure you are looking at whichever is applicable to you.

Will Interest be Charged on the Loan?

Yes, interest will be charged on the any federal loan when you start paying it back, six months after graduation. Full-time students can receive student aid for no more than 340 weeks, except students enrolled in doctoral studies, who can receive student aid for up to 400 weeks, and students with permanent disability who can receive student aid for up to 520 weeks. You must begin paying back the loan at this time as well.

In Nova Scotia, there is no interest charged on loans as long as you remain a Nova Scotia residence, and attended a Designated Program.

Free Money: Scholarships and Bursaries

Be sure to apply for scholarships and bursaries for additional money to put towards school. The Nova Scotia Student Assistance website has a great page on how you can find scholarships and bursaries to apply for here. Now that you have found what you would like to apply for, check out this MacLean’s article on tips for applying for scholarships.

Nova Scotia: How to Apply

Here is a step-by-step brochure on how to apply and how you will receive your money.  When applying you will need the following:

  • A Social Insurance Number (SIN).
  • Information about the school program you are most likely to be attending (including number of credits or class hours).
  • Total income information, from last year’s completed Revenue Canada tax returns — for yourself, and for your parents/step-parents or spouse.
  • A bank account in your own name

Applications takes about 45 minutes to complete and 2-6 weeks to be processed, with the application period beginning in May. Be sure to apply early enough to make sure you receive the funds when school starts. Money is paid out 5-10 days after the first day of school.

Am I Eligible?

Eligibility for student loans and grants are determined based on family income and the resources available to you such as RESPs or training allowances. The following formula is used to determine how much you can receive:

Total Educational Costs – Total Resources = Calculated Need

This formula is used up to a maximum amount of funding available, which is $200/week of study for provincial loans and $210/week of study for federal loans.

For a full list of Income Eligibility thresholds and how the Assistance Amount is calculated, check out this page.


Now that you know how you can pay for the post-secondary education you’ve always dreamed of, you can go back to the solving the even bigger questions of “where to go?” and “what to take?”! As always, for more information or advice, speak to your Advisor.


Be Well Advised.


 Written by: Kaileigh van den Berg, CFA



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