Frequently Asked Questions

Please select a category to help find answers to your questions.

Student Loans

1. How much money will I receive in student loans?

The Student Financial Assistance Estimator can help you estimate the amount of student loans and grants you may be eligible to receive.

2. How long will it take for my loan application to be processed?

It usually takes about four to six weeks for an application to be reviewed. Online applications are often processed more quickly than paper forms.

3. Is it possible to receive student loans for full-time or part-time studies if I attend a school outside of Canada?

Yes. Check with your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office to see if your school and program of study qualifies. You can also review the List of Designated Educational Institutions.

4. Do I need to apply only once for a student loan?

No. To be considered for a loan or grant you must apply every year while you are in school.

5. What should I do if I receive a student loan but then I can't finish my program?

Notify your school and provincial or territorial student financial assistance office as soon as possible. You will have to start repaying your student loans six months after you leave school.

6. What happens if my financial situation changes while I'm in school?

If this happens at any time during your pre-study or study period, provide the new financial information to your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office. This will ensure you're not awarded too much or too little.

To see how a change in your situation may affect how much you receive in loans or grants, use the Student Financial Assistance Estimator.

7. Is interest charged on my student loan while I'm in school?

Interest begins to be added to your loan only when you graduate or leave school, or if your loan is for full-time studies and you switch to part-time. In either case, you won't begin repaying your loan until six months later.

If you are going back to school, make sure your loan providers know. If you don't, you will have to start repaying your loan before you have finished school.

Student Grants

1. What income is used to decide whether I will get a grant?

Your family's income for the previous tax year determines if you will get a grant. The definition of "family income" depends on your situation. For example:

  • If you are an independent student or single parent, family income is your income.
  • If you are a dependent student, family income is the money earned by your parent(s) or guardian(s).
  • If you are married or in a common-law relationship, family income includes both your income and your spouse's income.

If your gross family income is zero, you must provide a letter from the person who is supporting you (e.g. family member, spouse or third party). The letter must indicate how your living expenses are being met.

2. If I qualify for both a loan and a grant, and the grant covers all my expenses, do I need to take a student loan?

If you are awarded a grant or grants that, together, cover or exceed your assessed financial need, no loans will be provided.

Repaying Your Loan

1. Can I start repaying my loan before the six-month non-repayment period is up?

Yes. You can make either one or several lump-sum payments while you're still in school.

In fact, making payments during your non-repayment period is a great way to pay the interest that has accumulated and reduce the principal of your student loan. When you reduce the principal, you also reduce the total interest you will have to pay later.

2. I was a full-time student, but I had to cut my course load back to part-time studies. How will this affect my student loan?

When you change from studying full time to part time, interest begins to accumulate on your loan for full-time studies. In addition, you will have to start repaying that loan six months after you stopped being a full-time student—even if you are still going to school part time.

If you need a loan for your part-time studies, you must apply. Interest will not accumulate on your loan for part-time studies while you are still in school.

Before you decide to change your status, discuss your options with your student financial aid officer. If you switch from full-time to part-time studies, you must advise your loan providers.

3. Is it true that, if I declare bankruptcy shortly after graduating from school, I won't have to pay back my student loans?

No. If you finished your studies less than seven years ago (five years in the case of exceptional financial hardship), your Canada Student Loans and integrated student loans must be paid back—even if you declare bankruptcy.

Visit the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada for more information about what happens to your student loans and other debts if you declare bankruptcy.

4. What happens if I don't have the money to make my student loan payments?

As soon as you realize you may have difficulty repaying your loan(s)-before you miss any payments-contact the National Student Loans Service Centre.

If you miss payments and default on your student loan(s), you could face additional interest charges. You could also lose out on income tax refunds and be unable to obtain further loans or grants. In addition, you may have to deal with a collection agency or face legal action, and your credit rating could be affected.

Take advantage of the help available, such as the Repayment Assistance Plan. Your province or territory of permanent residence may also have other programs to help you with your loans. Contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office for details.

See Repayment Assistance for more information.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

1. Why should I open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)?

Because the Government of Canada will help you save money if you open an RESP account through the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond. They are only available for your child if you open an RESP.

2. When should I open an RESP?

Now! Start early—your savings can grow surprisingly quickly.

3. Who can open an RESP?

Anyone can open an RESP account for a child—parents, guardians, grandparents, other relatives or friends.

4. Where can I open an RESP?

At most financial institutions (such as banks and credit unions) or with a group plan dealer or certified financial planner. See the list of RESP Providers.

5. What do I need to do to open an RESP?

It's simple! Just follow these 2 simple steps.

  1. Get a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
    • You must have one for your child to open the RESP.
    • There's no fee. However, certain documents, such as a birth certificate or permanent resident card, are required.
  2. Choose an RESP provider that best suits your needs.

    RESP providers include:

    • most financial institutions, such as banks or credit unions
    • group plan dealers, and
    • certified financial planners.

Shop around to find the RESP that best suits your needs. Consult these Questions for RESP Providers before you choose an RESP provider.

See a list of RESP Providers.

Note: It is very important to choose the right type of RESP you want to open.

6. Do I need to deposit a minimum amount of money into an RESP?

It depends. Some types of RESPs have no minimum deposit requirements, while others do. The Government of Canada will still add to your savings, no matter how little you put into your child's RESP account.

7. Do I need to have a bank account to open an RESP?

No. You can open an RESP without having a bank account.

8. How much can I put into an RESP?

Up to $50,000 for each child (named in one or more RESPs). Although there are no annual limits on contributions made to an RESP, the Canada Education Savings Grant will only be paid on the first $2,500 of contributions made every year. If the child has accumulated grant room, then the Canada Education Savings Grant will be paid on the first $5,000 of contributions made per year. For more information on accumulated grant room, please vist the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Canada Education Savings Grant.

9. How often do I have to put money into an RESP?

Every RESP is different.

  • Some types require specific monthly contributions.
  • Others let you put money into your RESP account whenever you want.

The sooner you start to save, the sooner you'll be earning interest, and the more your money will grow.

Even savings of $5 a week can quickly add up, especially when the Government of Canada adds money to your savings. Consult these Questions for RESP Providers to see what else an RESP provider could tell you.

10. Can I open an RESP for myself?

Yes.

  • You can open an RESP at any age.
  • While you can open a plan for a child, you can also name yourself or another adult as the definition of beneficiary.
  • Please note that all children up to the age of 17 are entitled to the Canada Education Savings Grant.

An RESP allows adults to earn interest on their registered education savings plan tax-free.

11. How is an RESP taxed (assuming the child continues education after high school)

  • Your money grows tax-free while it is in your RESP.
  • You don't get a tax deduction for the money you put into an RESP.
  • The money that your investment earns while it is in the RESP won't be taxed until money is taken out to pay for your child's education.
  • Money paid out of the RESP as an Educational Assistance Payment is taxed in the hands of the student. Since many students have little or no other income, they can usually withdraw the money tax-free.
  • The money that you have put in the RESP is returned to you, tax-free.

For more information, please phone the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281. Or visit the Educational Assistance Payments section of the Canada Revenue Agency's Web site.

12. How is an RESP taxed if a child decides not to continue education after high school?

  • You will not be taxed on the amount you contributed to the RESP, but you will have to pay taxes on the money that you earned in your plan as interest. This money is called "accumulated income". It will be taxed at your regular income tax level, plus an additional 20 percent.
  • The money that you have put into the RESP is returned to you.
  • The Canada Education Savings Grant can be shared with a brother or sister if they have grant room available—otherwise, the grant must be returned to the Government of Canada.
  • When you close your RESP, you will have to pay tax on the earnings in the RESP. (Although there will be earnings on the Canada Education Savings Grant, the grant must be returned to the Government of Canada.) You may be able to reduce the taxes you have to pay by transferring your accumulated income to either your or your spouse's Registered Retirement Savings Plan. For more information, see the Accumulated Income Payments section of the Canada Revenue Agency's Web site.
  • Talk to your RESP provider to find out about any conditions that may apply to the plan if your child does not continue his or her education after high school.

For more information, please call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 or visit their web site: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

13. Can more than one RESP be opened for a child?

Yes. A child can be named as the definition of beneficiary of more than one RESP account. However, you should be aware of the following information.

  1. There is a lifetime limit of $50,000 that can be contributed for each child.
  2. Be sure to find out if anyone else is making contributions to a plan for that child so that you don't go over any limits when you decide how much money to put into an RESP.

14. Where can I find out more about RESPs?

  • Check out the Registered Education Savings Plan booklet.
  • Call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) to order a free copy.
  • If you use a TTY, call 1-800-926-9105.
  • Visit a Service Canada Centre near you.

Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

1. Who can get the Canada Learning Bond?

Your child can get the Canada Learning Bond if:

2. How much money could my child get from the bond?

  • Through a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) you could get $500 now to help you start saving early for your child's education after high school. Your child may also get an extra $100 each year up to age 15, as long as you continue to receive the National Child Benefit Supplement.
  • That's up to $2,000 in Canada Learning Bonds (plus interest) for your child's education.
  • An extra $25 will be paid to help cover the cost of opening an RESP.

3. How do I apply for the bond?

It's a simple 2-step process.

  • Get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) for your child. There's no fee. However, certain documents, such as a birth certificate or permanent resident card, are required.
  • Open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) account with an RESP Provider that offers the Canada Learning Bond. Your RESP provider will apply for the bond on your behalf.

For more information:

4. What if my child doesn't continue education after high school?

Since an RESP can stay open for up to 36 years, the money can be used if your child decides to attend school later.

If your child doesn't continue his or her education and you must close the plan:

  • The amount you saved goes back to you. Ask your RESP provider for details.
  • The Canada Learning Bond must be returned to the Government of Canada.

5. Do I have to put in any money of my own to receive the bond?

No, you don't have to put any of your own money into the RESP. Ask your RESP provider to apply for the bond, which the Government of Canada will deposit directly into your child's RESP account.

However, if you choose to contribute to your child's RESP account, your child will qualify for the Canada Education Savings Grant.

6. Where can I find out more about the Canada Learning Bond?

Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

1. Who can get the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)?

Any child up to the end of the calendar year they reach the age of 17 can get the CESG, as long as he or she has a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and is a resident of Canada at the time the contribution is made. See special rules which may apply if your child is between the ages of 16 and 17.

2. How much money could I get from the CESG?

On the first $500 you save annually in your child's RESP, the CESG will give your child:

  • up to $200, if your net family income is $43,561 or less
  • up to $150, if your net family income is between $43,561 and $87,123, or
  • up to $100, if your net family income is more than $87,123.

When you save more than $500 annually, the CESG could add up to $400 on the next $2,000 saved.

The net family income amounts shown are for 2013. These income amounts are updated each year.

3. How do I apply for the CESG?

It's a simple 2-step process.

  1. Get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) for your child. There's no fee. However, certain documents, such as a birth certificate or permanent resident card, are required.
  2. Open an RESP account and put money into it. Your RESP provider will then apply for the CESG on your behalf. You can open an RESP account through a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union, through a certified financial planner or a group plan dealer.

For more information:

  • Call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)
  • If you use a TTY, call 1-800-926-9105
  • Visit a Service Canada Centre near you.

4. Are there any fees to apply for the CESG?

There are no fees associated with the CESG as such, although some RESP providers may apply service or administration fees. The CESG is based on total contributions made to an RESP on behalf of a beneficiary. Any fees would depend on the promoter and the RESP contract signed by the subscriber. Subscribers should select the plan they are most comfortable with.

5. What if my child doesn't continue education after high school?

Since an RESP can stay open for up to 36 years, the money can be used if your child decides to attend school later.

If your child does not return to school later, the amount you saved is returned to you. The CESG may be used for a brother or sister's education. If the CESG cannot be used for educational purposes, it must be returned to the Government of Canada.

6. What happens if I can't afford to contribute money to my RESP this year?

Don’t worry – you can catch up next year.

In fact, you can accumulate unused CESG from previous years by contributing up to $5,000 per child per year. (Remember that it is not the years that count here, but the total unused CESG room.) The CESG provides $500 on the first $2,500 of contributions for the current year in which the contribution is made. The remaining $2,500 could gain up to $500 in unused CESG money from previous years. This way, you could get up to $1,000 in CESG money per calendar year, if you have unused CESG from previous years. The maximum lifetime CESG is still $7,200 per child.

Carry forward examples.

7. How much unused CESG room can I carry forward?

As of 1998 (when the Canada Education Savings Program was first offered), CESG room (unused CESG amounts) accumulates for a child until the end of the calendar year in which the child turns 17. Unused CESG amounts can be carried forward for possible use in future years.

  • 1998 to 2006: up to $400 is added to the CESG room for each eligible child per year since 1998 (or since birth, if the child was born after 1998).
  • 2007 or later: up to $500 is added to the CESG room for each eligible child per year since 2007 (or since birth, if the child was born after 2007).

8. I can only put aside a few dollars a week. Does this still make sense?

Absolutely! No matter how little or how much you invest in a child's RESP, the Government of Canada will contribute a CESG of an additional 20% on top of your annual contribution, to a maximum of $500 a year, until the end of the year the child turns 17. The CESG applies to any amount up to the first $2,500 you contribute each year, but you may contribute as much as $5,000 per year. By the time, your child is ready for post-secondary education your savings could have grown into a significant nest egg. Even if you need to skip making regular contributions from time to time ― for example, because of unexpected household expenses ― your savings will continue to grow.

9. If one beneficiary is named under two plans, and contributions are made to each plan, which plan gets the CESG?

The CESG will be paid on a first come first served basis, subject to annual CESG limits and lifetime CESG and contribution limits. In the event, that two subscribers make contributions in the same month to two separate RESPs, the subscriber's contribution dated earliest in the month will receive the CESG. In the event that the contributions are made on the same day, the CESG will be pro-rated.

10. If a father and mother have joint custody of a child, is the CESG available to both parents?

Yes, both parents will receive the CESG; however, the combined amount of CESG cannot exceed the beneficiary's limit of $500 per year. Where more than one subscriber exists for a single beneficiary, it is important for subscribers to communicate in order to maximize the yearly CESG allotment while respecting the lifetime contribution limit of $50,000.00

11. A subscriber contributes $3,000 to an RESP in 2013 and attracts the maximum CESG based on the first $2,500 contributed. Will the difference of $500 ($3,000 - $2,500) attract CESG in the following year?

Contributions made in a year which do not attract the CESG may not be carried forward to the following calendar year for purposes of attracting the CESG. The difference of $500 will not attract the CESG in the year 2014.

12. Can a beneficiary benefit from more than one CESG per year?

Yes, a beneficiary can benefit from more than one CESG per year, up to a maximum of $1,000, under certain circumstances. Each child residing in Canada since 1998, or the year in which they were born, whichever is latest, begins to accumulate $400 ($500 as of January 1, 2007) in CESG room per year until the year in which they turn 17 (even if they are not named as a RESP beneficiary). For example, a subscriber decides to interrupt contributions for a period of one year, the unused CESG room for that period will be carried forward for use in future years. Upon resuming contributions, the subscriber may decide to contribute $5,000 into the RESP. Because the CESG room has been carried forward and provided that the lifetime limit of $7,200 in CESG has not been exceeded, the amount of CESG paid will be $1,000.

13. Is the calendar year used for CESG purposes?

Yes. The calendar year is used to determine CESG eligibility, the amount of contributions made, the CESG room earned and used in the year.

14. Will the government of Canada always provide the CESG?

No matter what a family's income is, any child in Canada, up to the end of the calendar year the child reaches the age of 17 can receive the CESG. However, if your child is between the ages of 15 and 17, special rules apply. For your child to continue receiving the CESG after age 15, certain contributions must have been made to the RESP (and not withdrawn) by December 31 of the calendar year in which your child turns 15.

The required amounts are:

  • total contributions of at least $2,000, OR
  • contributions of at least $100 a year or more in any 4 previous years.

For example, if your child turned 15 on July 31, 2013. That means by December 31, 2013, either a total of at least $2,000 must have been contributed in your child’s RESPs OR at least $100 must have been contributed in any 4 previous years (they don't have to be consecutive years) into your child’s RESP.

15. Where can I find out more about the CESG?