Student Loans

Student loans can be complicated, but we’re here to help! Student Connect can assist you with your loan application and advise you on how to manage your loans and pay for your education.

Student loans are administered by the provincial and federal governments. When you apply for your provincial loans, you will be simultaneously assessed for federal funding.

Student loans are interest-free and payment-free during the period of study, followed by a six-month grace period, and are repayable after that time. See the repayment section below for more details.

Note: Some of the information on this page is specific to Alberta students. In some cases you may need to refer to your provincial lending authority (if different) for more information. If you are not sure which province you should apply to for loans, see the Residency and Dependency section.

Full-time vs part-time

If you are planning to be enrolled full-time, you must apply for full-time student loans.

If you are planning to be enrolled part-time, you must apply for part-time student loans. Note that most of the information below pertains to full-time loans. See the Part-Time Loans section for more information.

Value

Student loans are intended to help cover the cost of your education, plus living expenses if applicable. The amount of your loan will depend on several factors, including the cost of your program. 

Note: there is a yearly and lifetime maximum that you are able to borrow. See Student Aid Alberta or your provincial loan provider for more information.

Eligibility

In Canada, student loans are only available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, landed immigrants, and protected persons (refugees). If you are an international student, please see U.S. and International loans.


Residency and dependency requirements

You must apply for loans in the province in which you are deemed a resident. To determine your residency status, you must first determine if you are a dependent or independent student.  

How to determine dependency

You will be considered a dependent student unless you meet any of the independent-student criteria. 

You will be considered an independent student if you meet any of the following criteria: 

  • 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 

How to determine residency

Dependent students

  • You will be considered a resident of the province where your parents or guardians have lived for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the start of your university studies. 
  • If one of your parents works or lives outside of Alberta, or your parents are separated or divorced, your province of residence is that of the parent you primarily live with, or from whom you receive the majority of your financial support. 
  • If you and your parents have lived in Alberta for the past 12 months, but your parents move to another province within 12 months prior to your studies (or after you begin post-secondary studies), and you stay in Alberta, then Alberta will continue to be your province of residence. 
  • If both your parents are Canadian but currently live outside of Canada, then your province of residence is the province in which they last resided for at least 12 consecutive months before going abroad. 

Independent students

  • Single or Single Parent: You are considered a resident of the province in which you have lived for the past 12 months, prior to being a full-time post-secondary student. (If you haven’t spent the last 12 months consecutively in one province, see “Other types of applicants” below.) 
  • Married or Common Law: You are considered a resident of the province in which you have most recently lived for a consecutive 12-month period, prior to being a full-time post secondary student. If you do not meet these requirements, but your a spouse or common-law partner does, you can still be considered an Alberta resident. If you and your spouse are both enrolled and applying for assistance, you should both apply for loans in the same province.

Permanent Residents and Protected Persons

If you are a permanent resident or protected person and you have not lived in any other province (other than Alberta) for 12 consecutive months, you may still be considered an Alberta resident if you are attending an Alberta educational institution. Additional documentation will be required. Contact Student Connect for more information. 

If you have protected-person (refugee) status, you can be considered an Alberta resident if you are living in Alberta on the date on which your program begins and you have not established residency in another province. 

Other types of applicants

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you may be considered an Alberta resident as long as you have not lived in any other Canadian province for more than consecutive 12 months and you are attending an Alberta educational institution and residing in Alberta during the study period. Additional documentation may be required upon application. Contact Student Connect for more information.


How to apply for full-time loans

You will need to apply for a loan for each year that you need one. If you later wish to continue full-time studies without requiring a loan, see the “Interest-Free Status” section. 

  1. Register in classes.
    Log in to Bear Tracks to get started. Make sure that you are registered full-time in the terms for which you have applied for funding. 
  2. Submit your loan application.
    Alberta applicants: Apply online at Student Aid Alberta.
    Other Canadian applicants: Contact your provincial loan provider.
    U.S. and International applicants: Learn more » 
  3. Watch for the following documents:
    Student Award Letter: This document will detail how much money you are eligible to receive and approximately when it will come. Keep this document for your records.
    Master Student Financial Assistance Agreements (MSFAAs): See the section below for more details.

Master Student Financial Aid Agreement

This information applies to Alberta students only. For information on how other provinces and territories handle MSFAAs, see Out of Province. 

After you have submitted your first student loan application, you will receive your Master Student Financial Aid Agreements (MSFAAs). You will need to complete two versions of this form: one for your provincial loan, and one for your federal loan. You will only need to complete these documents the first time you apply for student loans. 

You will receive an email or text message when your MSFAAs have been created. You will then need to log back into your Student Aid Alberta account and print your MSFAAs. If you are not able to log back into your Student Aid Alberta account, you will need to contact Student Aid Alberta directly at 1-855-606-2096. 

Once you have completed and signed your MSFAAs, you must take them to a designated Canada Post office (the one in the Students’ Union Building is eligible), along with your: 

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card (not just the number) 
  • 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 MSFAAs once. If you apply for a new loan in subsequent years, you will not need to complete the MSFAAs again.

Married and common-law applicants

If you are married or common-law, your spouse will need to complete a Consent and Declaration form. This form can be accessed online via the Student Aid Alberta web portal. The completed form must be sent to Student Aid Alberta) before funding will be released. Your spouse will only need to sign this form once. You can mail this form directly to Student Aid Alberta, submit it online, or bring it to Student Connect and we will mail it for you.


Part-time loans

This information applies to Alberta students only. For information on how other provinces and territories handle part-time loans, contact your province of residence. 

You must apply for part-time student loans using the paper application form from Student Aid Alberta. Once your loan application is complete, you will need to get Page 3 of the form signed by Student Connect, or the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research if you are a graduate student. Once the application is complete you will need to send it to Student Aid Alberta, or Student Connect can mail it for you. 

Once your part-time loan is processed, you will receive your part-time loan certificates in the mail. You must bring theses documents to the University of Alberta’s Financial Services office to be signed. After Financial Services has signed your certificates, you must take your certificates to a designated Canada Post office (the one in the Students’ Union Building is eligible), along with your:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card (not just the number)
  • 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.

Disbursement

In most cases, you will receive your funds approximately 10 business days after your MSFAAs have been processed. If you apply during the summer for fall semester, the funds will likely be disbursed in the last week of August or first week of September. Half of your loan amount will be disbursed in the fall term; the other half will be disbursed in the winter term.  

Your funds will first be applied to your tuition fees. Any remaining loan funds will be then deposited into your bank account. If your loans do not fully cover your tuition fees, you are responsible for paying the balance. Alberta students: for more information, see Getting Your Money on the Student Aid Alberta website.


Repayment

When you graduate or cease full-time studies, your Alberta Student Loan will be payment-free and interest-free for six months, and your Canada Student Loan will be payment free for six months but will begin to accrue interest immediately. (For details about other provinces, see Out of Province.) 

You can begin repayment before the repayment period begins, if you wish. 

Repayment period

The repayment period for your Canada and Alberta student loans will begin on the first day of the seventh month after you stop being a full-time student. 

If you have both 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 the repayment period, you will receive a Student Loan Consolidation letter from each lender, which will detail the balance owing on your student loans, the amount of your monthly payment, your payment dates, and the terms of the loan. This letter will need to be signed and returned to the address on the form.  

Payment options

You will be able to repay your loan in a number of ways, including pre-authorized or manual banking payments, cheque, or money order. 

For more information see the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre website and the National Student Loan Service Centre website, or contact your provincial funding authority.  

Repayment Assistance Plan

If you are having trouble paying back your loan, you can apply to enter the Repayment Assistance Plan, through the National Student Loan Service Centre website. If you are deemed eligible, you may qualify for a reduced monthly payment. See also the Repayment Assistance Estimator.


Interest-free status

If you have Canada Student Loans and Alberta Student Loans

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. To use the portal you will need to take the following steps: 

  1. Visit canlearn.ca 
  2. Select NSLSC Online Services 
  3. Log in or create an account 
  4. Select “Confirm Your Enrollment” 
  5. Complete the required sections 
By requesting your confirmation of enrollment through this portal, you will place your previous Canada and Alberta Student Loans into interest-free status. 

Other loan types

If you only have an Alberta Student Loan, or you only have a part-time Alberta Student Loan, or you are in the Post-Graduate Medical Education (PGME) program (not Dental), you must complete a Confirmation of Registration (Form B) to apply for interest-free status. This form is available at Student Connect or Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for graduate students. 

You will then be required to mailed or fax the Confirmation of Registration (Form B) to the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre (the address will be on the front of the form). You should then call the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre after you have sent to form to ensure that it has been received and processed.  

Other provincial loans

If you have loans from a province outside Alberta, you will need to contact your provincial funding authority to determine if you are eligible for interest-free status and how to apply for it.


Loans 101 workshops

Need help with your application? Attend a Student Loans 101 workshop, where our expert staff will guide you through loan application process. Learn more »  

Please note that we currently only offer Student Loans 101 workshops for Alberta students.