Student Loans

There are various ways to go about paying for your education at the University of Alberta. Depending on your financial situation, you may want to consider student loans as a source to assist you in paying for your education. Canadian student loans help post-secondary students pay for their education and are only available for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, landed immigrants or convention refugees.

Government-funded student loans are available to full-time students of the province or territory in which they hold permanent residency. When you apply for provincial loans and grants, you are simultaneously assessed for federal funding.

Alberta Part-time Students: Visit Part-time Students at Student Aid Alberta for more information and how to apply.

Student Loan Basics

Are you new to student loans or need a refresher on the process? We’re here to help!

  1. Register for your classes
    If you are applying for a full-time loan, make sure that you are registered full time in the term(s) for which you have applied for funding. Please refer to Section 21 of the University Calendar for details about what is considered full-time studies.
  2. Apply for your Alberta Student Loan
    If you are an Alberta resident, visit Student Aid Alberta to apply online. See Determine Residency and Applying for Student Loans for more information. If you are from another province you will have to contact your provincial loan provider.
  3. Keep an eye on your mailbox for two important things:
    • Your Student Award Letter will detail how much money you are eligible to receive and approximately when it will come. Hang on to that for your records!
    • The Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) for Canada and Alberta. (You will only receive this the first time you apply.)
  4. Be on the lookout for your money!
    Some of your loan might be sent straight to the University of Alberta to pay for your tuition, while any remaining amount will be sent to you. Keep a close eye on your Bear Tracks account as sometimes the amount sent to the university does not cover your full tuition balance. See Disbursement for more information.
  5. Repeat the process next year
    You will need to apply for a loan every year that you need one. If you do not need a loan, but are going to be in school full time, make sure that you let Student Aid Alberta and the National Student Loan Service Centre know so you do not to start paying back your loan! See Interest-free Status for more information.

How do government-funded student loans work?

Please read the steps and detailed instructions below to familiarize yourself with the entire student loans process.


Determine Residency

Student loans are administered by the province or territory which you hold official residency. The first step in applying for student loans is to determine the province of which you are an official resident. To help determine your provincial residency status, you must first determine if you are a dependent or an independent student.

Dependent Students

  • Out of high school for less than four years

Independent Students

You are considered an independent student if one or more of the following apply to you:

  • 23 or older
  • Out of high school for more than four years (does not include upgrading)
  • You have been available for full-time work for two or more years since you left high school
  • Married or common-law relationship status
  • Divorced, separated, or widowed
  • You have dependent children

Based on being a dependent or independent student, please use the criteria below to determine your provincial residency:

RESIDENCY FOR DEPENDENT STUDENTS

  • You are considered a resident of the province where your parent, or court appointed guardian has lived for at least 12 consecutive months prior to you starting school.
  • If one parent works in another province, your province of residence is with the parent of which you generally live with, or from whom the main financial support is received.
  • If your parents are separated or divorced, your province of residence is with the parent of which you generally live with, or from whom the main financial support is received.
  • If your parents move to another province within 12 months prior to or after you begin post-secondary studies, but you stay in Alberta, then Alberta will continue to be your province of residence.
  • If your parents live out of the country, then your province of residence is the province in which they last resided or maintained a family home for at least 12 consecutive months before going abroad.

RESIDENCY FOR INDEPENDENT STUDENTS

You must be out of high school for at least four years to have independent status.

Single or Single Parent: You are considered a resident of the province in which you have most recently lived in for the last 12 consecutive months, prior to being a full-time student.

Married or Common Law: You are considered a resident of the province in which you have most recently lived in for the last 12 consecutive months, prior to being a full-time student. A student who does not meet these requirements, but has a spouse or common law partner that does, can be considered an Alberta resident. If you and your spouse are both enrolled and applying for assistance, it is desirable that one province support both individuals (usually the province where both are enrolled) provided it is one of the provinces where one of the couple lives.

Residency for Permanent Residents: Any full-time student who does not meet a Canadian province or territory's residency criteria may be considered an Alberta resident as long as: the student is attending an Alberta educational institution and, the student is residing in Alberta during the study period. A student with protected person status, who is living in Alberta on the date of which their program begins and has not established residency in another province, can be considered an Alberta resident.


Applying for Student Loans

Once you have have determined your province of residency you are ready to begin your application for government-funded student loans. Please select your province of residency for further information on starting your application.


Master Student Financial Aid Agreement (MSFAA)

Complete your Master Student Financial Aid Agreement (MSFAA)
After you have submitted your first student loan application you will receive the Master Student Financial Aid Agreement (MSFAA). Once you have completed and signed your MSFAA, you must take it to a designated Canada Post office along with:

  • Proof of Social Insurance Number (card, tax return, or any other federally issued document with your SIN that does not pertain to student loans)
  • Government issued photo ID
  • Direct deposit banking information

The post office will process the document and send it out for you. Your loan will not be disbursed until this action is taken. You will only need to sign the MSFAA once. In subsequent years that you submit a loan application, MSFAAs will not be required. Note: the Canada Post in SUBmart is designated.

Consent and Declaration Signing
If you are married or common law you will be mailed a Consent and Declaration form with your MSFAA. This form will need to be completed by your spouse and sent back to Student Aid Alberta before funding will be released. Your spouse will only need to sign this form once.

Part-time Loan Signing
After you receive your loan documents, you must bring them to the University of Alberta’s Financial Services for signing.

After Financial Services has signed your documents and remitted applicable tuition, take your loan certificates to a designated Canada Post office. Along with your loan documents, you must bring:

  1. Proof of Social Insurance Number (card, tax return, or any other federally issued document with your SIN that does not pertain to student loans)
  2. Government issued photo ID
  3. Direct deposit banking information

Disbursement

After you have processed your MSFAA at a designated Canada Post office, the University of Alberta will confirm your loan online, applicable tuition will be remitted, and funds will be deposited into your bank account. Please review Bear Tracks for any outstanding balance.

Please visit Getting Your Money at Student Aid Alberta for disbursement steps and details.

What if I already paid my tuition?
Tuition amounts are usually directly remitted (paid) to the university upon release of funding. However, if you have already paid your tuition for Fall Term or Winter Term, the remittance amount will go towards your next semester of study. If you have paid your tuition in full for both the Fall and Winter Terms, the university will refund you the remittance amount. However, this does take time, so please take that into consideration.

If you require any additional support or assistance, please contact University of Alberta's Financial Services.


Interest-free Status

If you are not applying for new funding in the upcoming academic year, you may keep your existing loans in interest-free status by requesting electronic confirmations of enrollment through the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) website.

  1. Visit www.canlearn.ca
  2. Select NSLSC Online Services
  3. Log in or create an account
  4. Select Confirm Your Enrollment
  5. Complete the required sections

Alberta part-time students, Postgraduate Medical Education students, and students who only have Alberta Student Loans are eligible to keep their previous full-time or part-time Alberta Student loans in interest-free status. You will be required to complete a Confirmation of Registration (Form B). This form is available at Student Connect. Students with Canada Student Loans however, may enter the six-month grace period, followed by repayment status. During this time, you can apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan. See Loan Repayment for further details.

Students from provinces outside Alberta will need to contact their provincial funding authority to determine if they are eligible for interest-free status and how to apply for it.


Loan Repayment

When you graduate or cease to be in full-time studies you will enter a six-month grace period before you have to start paying back your loans. During this grace period your Alberta Student Loan will continue to be interest and payment free. Your Canada Student Loan will be payment free, but will begin to accrue interest. When your six-month grace period has ended your student loan will enter repayment status. If you have Canada and Alberta Student Loans you will need to make two payments - one to the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre and one to the National Student Loan Service Centre.

Before you enter repayment status you will receive a student loan repayment letter, which will detail the balance owing on your student loans, the amount of your monthly payment, payment dates, and terms of the loan. You may also receive some information about the Repayment Assistance Plan.

If you will be returning to full-time studies before the end of your grace period, see Interest-free Status.

Payment Instructions
When you enter into repayment status you will be able to pay in a number of ways including pre-authorized payments out of your bank account, online or telephone banking, or cheque or money order. If you would like more information on these options contact the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre and the National Student Loan Service Centre.

Regardless of which option you choose, it is highly recommended that you keep track of and manage your student loan through the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre and the National Student Loan Service Centre online portals. If you would like to make payments on your student loan before you enter repayment (i.e. in your grace period) you are able to do so.

Students from provinces outside Alberta will need to contact their provincial funding authority regarding repayment.

Repayment Assistance Plan
If you are having trouble paying back your loan, you can apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP). You can apply for RAP online through the National Student Loan Service Centre portal. If you are eligible for RAP you may qualify for a reduced monthly payment. Visit Repayment Assistance Estimator for more information.


Questions

If you have any questions regarding student loans, please contact Student Connect or visit Student Aid Alberta.