In British Columbia, Canada Student Loans are available alongside BC Student Loans. However, since BC Student Financial Services administers both the federal and provincial loans, only one application has to be completed to be considered for both federal and provincial assistance. The following is an overview of the general federal and provincial loans available in British Columbia, as well as specific loans and grants available to students with permanent disabilities.
Student loans are available to provide financial assistance during the course of your education. The Canada Student Loans Program enables students to attend a post-secondary institution by providing them with loans to cover the costs of going to school. The amount of the loan is different for each student and is based on the individual’s assessed financial need. It is important to note, however, that Canada Student loans are meant to supplement your resources, not replace them.
Full-Time Student Loans
As a full-time student in British Columbia, you are eligible for up to $210 per week in federal loans. One of the benefits of the full-time Student Loans Program is that it does not charge interest until you have left school. Interest accumulates from the month after you graduate or stop going to school, but you are not required to make payments until six months later.
As a full-time student in British Columbia, you are also eligible for up to $110 per week in provincial loans.
To be eligible for a full-time student loan in British Columbia:
- You must be a resident of British Columbia
- You must be enrolled in a degree, diploma or certificate program that runs for at least 12 weeks
- You must be taking at least 60% of a full course load
Part-Time Student Loans
As a part-time student in British Columbia, you are eligible for up to $10,000 total in federal loans. Part-time Canada Student Loans differ from full-time loans in that interest accumulates while you are in school. However, part-time students are not required to make principal payments until they graduate or stop going to school. Students also have the option to make payments while in school (first to any accrued interest, then to principal).
To be eligible for a part-time student loan:
- You must be enrolled in a degree, diploma or certificate program that runs for at least 12 weeks in a 15-week period at a designated institution
- You must be taking between 20% to 59% of a full course load
Canada Student Loans for Students with Permanent Disabilities
The Canada Student Loans Program recognizes that physical and learning disabilities may mean that it takes longer to complete a program of study. As a student with a permanent disability in British Columbia, your reduced requirements include:
- For full-time funding: You must be enrolled in at least 40% of a full course load
- For part-time funding: You must be enrolled in between 20% to 39% of a full course load. However, if you are studying between 40% to 59% of a full course load, you can choose to be considered a part-time student.
- To accommodate a reduced course load, you have an extended eligibility of up to 520 weeks of study
To Apply for Student Loans in British Columbia:
- The deadline for applications is six weeks before the end of classes for a given semester; however students are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
- You must apply for a student loan each year, as a single application will generally cover two semesters (a supplementary application is available for those who require assistances for a third semester in a given year).
Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities
As a student with a permanent disability in British Columbia, you are eligible to receive:
A Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
You may receive $2,000 per school year to help cover the costs of accommodations, tuition and books. This grant may exceed your accessed need. For example, if your accessed need is determined to be $1,200, you may still receive a non-repayable grant for $2,000.
A Supplemental Bursary for Students with Disabilities
You may receive an $800 bursary if you are studying at a course load of 40% or greater or a $400 bursary if you are studying at a course load of 20%-39%.This is a provincial bursary design to assist students with disabilities with exceptional educational costs.
There is one application for these grants: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/forms/documents/canstdt_grant_disabilities.pdf
A Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities
You may receive up to $8,000 per school year to cover exceptional education-related costs associated with your disability.
How to apply for a Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities:
Permanent Disability Benefit
Students with severe permanent disabilities in British Columbia are eligible for the Permanent Disability Benefit. If you have a severe permanent disability, you may have your loans immediately forgiven. For more information on the Permanent Disability Benefit or on what qualifies as a severe permanent disability visit: http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/after/cant/hpd.shtml
Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with Permanent Disabilities
Students with permanent disabilities who are having difficulty paying back their student loans are eligible for the Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with Permanent Disabilities (RAP-PD). RAP-PD makes debt repayment easier for students with permanent disabilities by allowing them to pay back what they can reasonable afford.
- Loan payments are base on family income, family size and disability related expenses
- Students will not make loan payments exceeding 20% of their income (on loans covered by RAP-PD)
- In some cases, students will not have to make any loan payments until their income increases
- No student with a permanent disability should have a repayment period longer than 10 years
B.C. Access Grant
Full time students with permanent disabilities who are starting school between August 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010 are eligible for a B.C. Access Grant. In this case, students may receive a non-repayable grant to replace approximately $1,000 of their B.C. Student Loan Funding. Students are automatically accessed for the B.C. Access Grant when they apply for a B.C. Student Loan and include verification of permanent disability.
Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities
Students with permanent disabilities attending private and public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia are eligible for the Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities. Depending on the student’s need, they are eligible for a grant up to $10,000 or up to $12,000 if an attendant is required at school. Of note, this provincial grant does not cover living expenses, tuition or books and is meant to cover exceptional education- related services or equipment.
Students can apply for the Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities at: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/specialprograms/documents/assistanceprogramdisabilities_application.pdf
For general inquiries or additional information regarding financial assistance in British Columbia:
British Columbia Student Services Branch
Telephone: 250-387-6100 (Victoria area)
Telephone: 604-660-2610 (Lower Mainland)
Toll-free: 1-800-561-1818 (anywhere else in Canada/US)