Student Loans 101

How the Canada Student Loans Program works

Visit for a list of terms and definitions.

Stages of a Loan

See Stages of a Loan.

Application Process

There are five steps in the application process:

  • Step 1: Begin application
  • Step 2: Wait for Notice of Assessment from your province/territory
  • Step 3: Review and accept the MSFAA terms and conditions
  • Step 4: Submit your loan documents
  • Step 5: Confirm your enrolment

For more information on applying, visit

Visit How to Apply

Student Loan Eligibility

To qualify for a Canada Student Loan and/or Grant you must 

  • be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or designated as a protected person;
  • be a permanent resident of a province or territory that issues Canada Student Loans and/or Grants; and
  • demonstrate financial need.

Learn more about Canada Student Loans and Grants.

Note: The Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Quebec operate their own student loan programs. Contact your provincial or territorial student financial assistance office for more information.

You must also be enrolled in:

  • at least 60 percent of a full course load (at least 40 percent for students with a permanent disability) if you are a full-time student;
  • 20 to 59 percent of a full course load if you are a part-time student; or
  • a degree, diploma or certificate program offered by a designated post-secondary school that runs for at least 12 weeks within 15 consecutive weeks.

Note: If you are a student with a permanent disability and you are studying between 40 and 59 percent of a full course load, you have the option to be considered a student in full or part-time studies.

You can estimate your eligibility with these need assessment tables.

You must maintain satisfactory grades to continue receiving student loans and grants each year you are in school and:

Lifetime limits on the amount of student financial assistance you can receive, including interest-free periods, vary:

  • Full-time students who received loans on or after August 1, 1995, are eligible to receive student financial assistance for no more than 340 weeks.
  • Full-time students enrolled in doctoral studies are eligible to receive student financial assistance for no more than 400 weeks.
  • Students with a permanent disability or who received Canada Student Loans before August 1, 1995 are eligible to receive student financial assistance for no more than 520 weeks.
Financial Planning Tools

Use these tools to estimate potential annual student loan and grant amounts, monthly loan repayments and how the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) can help.

Student Financial Assistance Estimator

Estimate your annual student loan and grant amounts from the Canada Student Loans Program and participating provincial or territorial programs. You will need to know your:

  • annual income;
  • financial assets and investments (full-time students only); and
  • tuition fees and education costs.

Estimate financial assistance

Loan Repayment Estimator

Estimate the monthly payments you will need to make to repay your Canada Student Loan or other government student loans.

To generate an estimate, enter:

  • the total amount of your loan(s);
  • your interest rate;
  • your non-repayment period options; and
  • the number of monthly payments.

Estimate loan repayment

Repayment Assistance Plan Estimator

If you are experiencing challenges making your monthly student loan payments, you can apply for the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) which helps you by having your payments reduced or put on hold for six months at a time.

Learn more about the Repayment Assistance Plan or use the Repayment Assistance Estimator below to see if you qualify.

Estimate repayment assistance