Student loans enable many Canadians to attend post-secondary school. There are many upsides to borrowing from the government, including interest-free status while in school, income tax deductions on repayment, repayment assistance and some of your assessment may be covered by grants (funds that you don’t have to repay).
However, student loans are still a loan and you will need to repay the money. It is preferable to draw on other resources, such as an RESP, if they are available. But if such resources are not available, student loans are a smart alternative for investing in your future.
|Are a first time borrower
|Using student loans for the first time
|Have previously taken out a loan
|Applying for and managing your student loan
|Student loan repayment
- nursing student in either NESA or the After-Degree program?
- Although you apply for admission through the University of Lethbridge, you must apply for your loans as a Lethbridge College student until you move over to the university – then you will apply for your loans with the U of L as your institution.
- international student?
- At this time, there are no government student loans available for international students. We do not participate in the U.S. Student Loan Program. And, while you may be eligible for certain Lethbridge College awards and scholarships, please do not rely on these to fund your education as they are limited in number and value. There is an expectation that you planned for your out-of-country education and have finances in place.
Post Secondary Students can access grants by applying for loans or by studying part-time.
All loan applicants are considered for grants based on their provincial/federal government eligibility thresholds. Students who want to avoid and can afford to avoid debt can enter just $1 into the 'requested assistance' field and be assessed for grants only.
Academic Upgrading and ESL
Please note that our foundational learning grant funding allocation has been fully allotted for the 2023-24 academic year and we have a waitlist.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR TIMELINES FOR EARLY APPLICATION FOR THE 2024-25 ACADEMIC YEAR.
The Foundational Learning Assistance program provides limited grant funding to eligible learners in these foundational programs:
Eligible applicants must meet the following conditions (note: ESL students must be Canadian citizens):
- are a current resident of Alberta
- demonstrate financial need based on Alberta government standards
- lack the skills training needed to find sustainable employment
- have been out of the regular (K-12) school system for at least 12 consecutive months
- are legally entitled to work in Canada
A date in 2024 on which to apply will be established shortly
- See an Academic Advisor (if Academic Upgrading is your goal) or visit the English Language Centre folks.
- Apply to your program ( $100) and confirm your seat (this requires a $300 tuition deposit).
- Contact us by email email@example.com or in person at Awards and Financial Aid next to Registration in regard to your desire to apply for funding. We will enter your information into the funding application queue - again, note that the allocation for the current year has been fully depleted.
- Watch your email (the one you provide to us) to enter into the funding application for an access code to use in order to access the application.
- Watch your email for notice of approval. If you are approved we will allocate the tuition and fees to your account (includes the $300 deposit).
After you apply please call the Alberta Foundation Learning and Skills Development Contact Centre at 780-427-3722 if you need to report any changes in your enrolment.
Applications typically take a couple of weeks, after which you will receive information about:
- The funding that will be provided or the reason funding has been denied.
- How and when to expect the funds.
- Notice of right to appeal the decision.
Please note that the funder will NOT cover the medical/dental coverage offered by the college. You must either opt out or pay for that yourself.
- Do not quit your job - if you are working more than 20 hours per week (average) you must speak with a Client Service Specialist to obtain permission to leave your job (Counsel to Leave Employment)
- You may be eligible for up to 50 months of funding across program streams (program limits apply).
- You are expected to maintain acceptable progress. If you withdraw or fail to attend, your funding will be terminated.
- If you require a reduced course-load due to a disability, you must seek out a Human Services Authorized Official for an Employability Assessment.
Using student loans for the first time
Thinking of applying for a student loan? Then you’ve come to the right place. We provide all of the tips you need to make your application process seamless.
The student loans program is friendlier than it used to be. Many who were not eligible in the past are now eligible. See below for eligibility requirements or contact us if you are in doubt.
- loan applicants are assessed for grants (income based)
- government student loans are interest-free during schooling
- federal loans are now interest free permanently
- payments do not begin for a grace period of six months after graduation
- Alberta student loans have a new (July 1 2023) extended grace period of 12 months during which no interest and no payments are due
- any interest paid is tax deductible when you are in repayment
- repayment assistance is available to those in need
For these reasons student loans are always preferable to a student line of credit.
Student lines of credit available at banks do not share the benefits of student loans. Most lines of credit require you to begin paying interest immediately. In addition, there are no grace periods, no grant assessment, and it is difficult to negotiate your repayment terms.
Government student loans are based on demonstrated need and take into consideration your marital/family/living away/with family status (and apply a standard living allowance based on this) and educational costs for one continuous period of study (not more than 12 consecutive months).
You may choose to apply one term at a time or for two, but if your program is longer than a year you will need to apply (at least) annually.
You must apply for your loan with the province you have lived in for the most recent 12 consecutive months not as a post-secondary student. In other words, if you have moved to Alberta for post-secondary education, you need to apply for your loan through your home province, not Alberta, unless you are a dependent (under 23, are single and have no dependents of your own, and your parents reside in Alberta).
- Student loans are available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
- Student loans are available for:
- Full-time study (nine credits or more per term in fall or winter; four and a half credits or more in a two-month term; or six for students with disabilities in regular terms who qualify for a reduced course-load through Accessibility Services).
- Apprenticeships (through the Canada Apprenticeship Loan program and Student Aid Alberta).
- Pre-employment (through Student Aid Alberta only).
- Part-time study (fewer than nine credits per regular term) - not an online application and takes many weeks to process; does not include living allowance but may include grant
Note: You cannot apply for part-time study loans/grants online but you can download the paper form from your provincial website.
- Academic upgrading and English as an Additional Language courses are not eligible for student loans. However, there are some funding options available: contact us for more information. (firstname.lastname@example.org) This fund is currently fully allocated - we can't consider any more until the 24-25 year
- You are expected to contribute a provincially-established minimum amount of savings. This amount varies by province and circumstance.
- Depending on family composition and income, parents may also be expected to contribute. If you are an Alberta student, you may apply without disclosing information about parental contributions. However, this means foregoing federal government grants.
National Student Loans Service Centre offers this introductory webinar.
PLEASE NOTE THAT A FIRST-TIME LOAN APPLICATION WILL REQUIRE THAT THE STUDENT COMPLETE A DOCUMENT - TWO FOR ALBERTA STUDENTS - CALLED THE MSFAA (MASTER STUDENT FINANCIAL AID AGREEMENT) IN ORDER FOR FUNDS TO BE RELEASED. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST COMMON OVERSIGHTS ON THE PART OF STUDENTS. CHECK YOUR (GOVERNMENT LOAN) DIGITAL INBOX FOR INFORMATION ON THIS ELECTRONIC PROCESS.
It’s in your best interest to understand the government loan process. Applications are renewed annually and are available in June for the upcoming academic year.
Your provincial student loan web site is very helpful but we can provide an overview of the steps involved and walk you through any points you may find difficult along the way over the phone (403.320.3372) or via email. email@example.com
Go to your province's student loan site (Google 'student loan' and your province - that will get you there). You most likely will need a provincial digital identity number - each province and territory has some particularities. This process can take a while so start early - it involves actual mail and an up-to-date provincial form of identity.
******In Alberta you must have a VERIFIED myAlberta.ca account to apply for school funding. (This gives you access to all kinds of provincial services.)
- Have your provincial student number (from your high school transcript or obtainable from your provincial web site), your Social Insurance Number and your Line 15000 from your most recent tax return handy. (Line 15000 is your gross income - all the money you made before any deductions. If you didn't work or made very little you may enter 0 or what you figure is a close estimate if you can't locate this (though you if you can't you should start learning how to file things - your student loan information should be kept in a file along with your tax information).
- Locate the loan application web page for your province - for Albertans it is here.
Log in with your established username and password for the secure access site. Be sure to record this information and keep it with your student loan records (while the process is almost exclusively digital, printing some of the more important documents is a good idea for easy reference).
Each academic year you will apply again so be sure to retain this information to save yourself some steps.
Complete the application - be sure to select the appropriate academic year. You will be asked to provide personal, educational and financial information. Again, if you have trouble, contact us. Be sure to use monthly figures where required (this is a common error). If you are an Alberta borrower you will see the program dates, amounts for tuition, fees, books and supplies displayed - copy these into the fields provided unless you know your costs will be lower.
Applications by students from other provinces trigger a request for this information from us.
- Leave the 'amount requested' blank unless you want to limit your assessment. Leaving this field blank will net you all that you are eligible for based on the information you have provided. Enter $1.00 if you are only interested in being considered for grants.
- Review to ensure accuracy and check for errors, then submit. You should receive an estimate of what your award will likely be.
- Watch your student loan digital mailbox. Alberta borrowers receive two separate Master Student Financial Aid Agreements (MSFAAs) - one for the province and one for the federal portion of your loan. Both the federal and the provincial MSFAA must be completed electronically - instructions are provided in your Student Aid inbox. Follow instructions carefully. Call us if you are confused. Both of these documents must be completed before any money will be released to you even if we have confirmed your loan.
- We will be requesting your tuition and fees (as long as there are sufficient funds) directly from your loan. If any loan balance remains after Lethbridge College has requested funds for your first semester, it will be deposited into your bank account. We will send an email to your lethbridgecollege.ca account so watch your College emails. If you make changes after the date we confirm your loan and request funds you will have to pay them from what is deposited into your bank account. The email will tell you what that date was.
- For help with Alberta system issues call 1.780.427.5318
- For help with the Alberta application call us (403.320.3372) OR call Alberta Student Aid at 1.855.606.2096
Although we’ve broken down some of the process above, it is always a good idea to read through the information on the government website. Consider the following sites:
- Student Financial Assistance
- This is the first line for information on federal student loans. You’ll find everything from eligibility requirements to calculators that can help you determine whether you’ll be likely to receive a loan.
- This is the first line for information on federal student loans. You’ll find everything from eligibility requirements to calculators that can help you determine whether you’ll be likely to receive a loan.
- Student Aid Alberta (or the equivalent website from your province of residence)
you can try this video as well
At Lethbridge College, when we confirm that you are registered full-time we also request your tuition and fees be paid to us directly from your loan. Then we code your account so you don’t have to worry about the tuition payment deadline unless your loan is not sufficient to cover your fees. Don’t expect that we will receive your loan money before the deadline. Be sure to read your College email for updates.
The portion of your loan that we request only covers your tuition and fees (contingent on sufficient funding being available).
You are still responsible for additional costs, such as:
- any class changes you make after the loan has been confirmed by us (again, see your Lethbridge College email for our message to you about this)
Dropping below the nine credit per regular term requirement will cause your loan to be cancelled. Your provincial student aid office and the federal government’s student aid office will be notified and any further funding will be stopped, depending on the timeframe.
If you withdraw early enough any applicable refunds will be returned to the student loan lender to reduce your outstanding principle.
If you don’t reapply for a loan or register as a full-time student within 12 months, you will enter repayment. Your repayment period will begin twelve months after your date of withdrawal from full-time studies.
If you have received grant funding, the lender will contact you about the outcome of your actions. The lender will likely reassess a pro-rated portion of your grant as loans when you enter into repayment.
if you withdraw completely be aware that 2 withdrawals while receiving loan funding will result in your being denied further funding for a 12 month period.
If you take multiple short-term programs on loan funding you may be denied as well.
f you are taking fewer than nine credits per term, you may be eligible for a part-time bursary of $600 and/or a part-time Canada student loan. You may be considered for slightly more depending on the reasons for part-time study and if your need is determined to be very high.
Application forms are available as PDFs from Student Aid Alberta
These require authorization from our Financial Aid office
These applications may take up to six weeks to be processed, so plan ahead and be sure to budget accordingly.
Servicing debt while in school will only cause unnecessary stress. We highly recommend paying off all debts, if possible, prior to starting your educational journey to reduce your amount of stress. You want your focus to be on your academic success, not on paying off debt.
If you haven’t already, create a budget. Budgeting helps you make smart decisions to meet your needs for the school year and the month afterward. Once you have a budget, you’ll be able to decide where you can reduce your spending or if you need to have a part-time job while in school.
Start your budget with your program costs. Program costs are available on all individual program pages. Or you can work through your budget with our budget wizard, which automatically inputs your program costs for you.
If you are concerned about budgeting around your loan, please stop by the Student Awards and Financial Aid office or send us an email; we’d be happy to assist you. We have extensive experience and can provide advice and advocacy.
Applying for and managing student loans
Apply for your loan as early as it’s available so you know where you stand and have time to return your Master Student Financial Aid Agreement (MSFAA) before you need your money. Each summer, the new application for the following academic year becomes available, usually in early to mid-June. You must use the application that matches your study year.
Remember that you must apply for your loan through the province where you lived for the most recent 12 months while not at college or university.
It is a good idea to listen to this webinar that will orient you to student loans - it's fairly up to date (as of November 2019): Student loan orientation webinar by Finastra
If you apply for an Alberta loan online, most of the required information will display on the application once you select your institution and program. After you correctly enter the institution and program name and select your study period from the drop-down menu, the maximum amounts for tuition, fees and books will be displayed. You may request less than the maximum but not more.
You will also need:
- your social insurance number
- your Alberta student number
- line 15000 of your most recent tax return
- (if applicable) line 15000 of your parent’s or spouse’s most recent tax return
Out-of-province and part-time study students
If you are an out-of-province student or using a paper application, you will need the above information. You will also need your program-related costs, which are available on the appropriate Lethbridge College program page.
If you are a dependent student applying for an Alberta student loan, you will need information and signatures from your parents if you would like to be considered for federal grants.
If you are applying in another province, you must provide parental information and signatures if you are considered a dependent by your province.
The first time you are approved for full-time funding, you must complete your Master Student Financial Assistance Agreements (MSFAAs/Loan Agreements) before any funds can be issued. There are two separate MSFAAs: Canada MSFAA and Alberta MSFAA.The MSFAAs are generally one-time agreements; however, you will need to sign new MSFAAs if you had a break in full-time studies of more than two years, or you received funding through another province/territory. Note - failure to complete these forms will result in your funding being stalled; you will not receive any funds until these are processed.
Alberta students need to process both the provincial and the federal MSFAA through an electronic process. Log in and follow the instructions provided.
The Canada MSFAA must be completed electronically. Login to your Student Aid account and check your inbox for a letter with instructions and a link for this process. You will need your Social Insurance Number, your banking information, and the Canada MSFAA number provided on the letter.
You can appeal your assessment by completing a request for reconsideration form or writing a letter. Be sure to specify what you are asking to be changed or an amount that you would like to be considered for – using the form will prevent you from forgetting any necessary information.
Keep in mind that there are maximums for living, tuition, fees and books; if you exceed these, it is unlikely that you will be awarded any additional funds unless you can prove exceptional circumstances with the necessary documentation.
Most provinces now allow you to upload your documents and request a reassessment online. Check your province's student aid website for this option. Keep in mind that the review generally takes four to six weeks, so you may need to consider other funding options while you wait for a decision.
Check your lethbridgecollege.ca email. Once we confirm your loan we send you an email that same day so you know it's been done and can be aware that any additional classes/credits after that date have not been requested to be paid directly to us.
Verify the tuition portion being sent to Lethbridge College from Student Aid Alberta
- Log in to the Students Finance System; this could be National or your province (or both).
- Select Payment Schedule.
- Refer to the Tuition Portion column to see how much money will be paid to Lethbridge College.
- Check the Date column to see when your tuition will be sent to Lethbridge College.
Note: Your student account will be coded as long as sufficient funds can be sent directly to the college, so you will not have to be concerned about the deadline. Check your college email account often as we send messages to confirm that there was sufficient funding to pay your full balance (sometimes this is not the case so it's worth your while to check - also keep in mind that once we have confirmed your full-time registration and requested your fees any changes to your registration will not be captured. While you will continue to receive emails from Accounting Services for students, you can rely on our email to reassure you that you will not be de-registered. It will be from 'firstname.lastname@example.org' and it will usually have been sent several weeks prior to class start. (The fact that we have requested your fees as of that date will guide you in regard to registration changes that will not have been captured.
Need help? Contact Student Aid Alberta for assistance with the Students Finance System.
Check your tuition balance at Lethbridge College
- Log in to Self Service (under MyLC tab on the top of the College web page)
- Select "Student Finance" and choose the term you are looking for
- Please keep in mind that the funds from your student loan take much longer to get to the college than they do to get to you: expect that they will be applied to your account late in the month they were due.
- Check your lethbridgecollege.ca email for an email from 'email@example.com' and you will see that we sent you an email explaining how this works and also any details particular to you - some loans are insufficient so that would be mentioned if that were the case for you, some students have not completed their MSFAAs so that information would be in there if it applied to you and please take particular note of the date - typically about six weeks before classes begin so look back that far and note that if you added any classes after that date they would not have been included as they would not have been added to your balance owing at that time.
- Contact us if you have questions about your loan.
Make sure your student loan funding covers your full tuition balance
- Compare the tuition portion in your Student Aid Alberta account with your account balance at Lethbridge College.
Note: If the tuition portion being sent directly to Lethbridge College is not enough to cover your tuition balance, you will need to pay the difference on or before the tuition payment deadline.
If you have any questions, please contact us directly.
If you return to full-time studies and do not apply for a loan, you will need to have our Financial Aid staff complete a provincial form or electronic portal entry to suspend your repayment status. The process or form required varies depending on your lender and must be authorized by us.
Be sure to respond to any repayment requests promptly. Leaving this until the last minute could result in you making some payments even if you are enrolled as a full-time student.
At this time, there is no federal repayment relief for part-time students.
Student loan repayment
One of the most important factors to remember about repaying your student loan is to check into your account with the lender. By managing your loan repayment actively, you’ll be better equipped to handle your debt and pay your loan off faster.
We recommend that you watch this 2 minute video to better understand repayment options and services.
- Alberta borrowers can manage the provincial portion of their loans at Student Aid Alberta.
- Canada student loan borrowers (and most other provinces) can use canlearn.ca or National Student Loans Service Centre. (This web page also offers an 'instant answer' box, for a variety of frequently asked questions such as making lump sum payments, how to log in, and so on.)
- It is in your best interest to stay on top of your repayment situation as failing to do so may damage your credit rating and make any future loans very difficult.
You also need to ensure that all of your contact information (and bank account information) is current with your lender(s). If you are funded by an integrated province (like Saskatchewan), you will only need to update your information once. If you have received separate funding from your province and the federal government, you will need to ensure that both lenders have up-to-date contact information.
After you graduate, or once you decide to call your educational journey complete, your student loan enters a grace period. During this time, you do not need to make any payments and your loan does not accrue interest.
Effective April 1st, 2023, the Government of Canada has permanently eliminated the accumulation of interest on all Canada Student Loans including loans currently being repaid. You continue to be responsible to pay any interest that may have accrued on your loan before April 1, 2023.
As of July 2023 Alberta Student Loan borrowers have a 12 month interest/payment-free period.
The (floating) interest rate on Alberta loans is the current prime rate. Alternatively, you can lock in at prime rate plus two per cent.
Again, Canada Student Loans are now interest free for those who are borrowing since then; those who were in repayment prior to April 1, 2023, must still pay the interest that had accrued until the new policy was imposed.
If you have questions about repayment, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the grace period(s) you are required to make monthly payments.
With interest-bearing loans, the longer your repayment period, the more your loan costs you over time. So anything you can do to speed things up is to your benefit. Consider these options:
- Make payments before your grace period ends.
- Increase your monthly payments - even by just $10 or $20.
- Change your payments from monthly to biweekly.
- Make lump sum or one-time extra payments at any time.
Keep in mind that if you have both provincial and Canada student loans, you will be required to make two payments.
Renegotiating your payments
If you have any trouble with payments, contact your lenders immediately.
Never miss a payment. Doing so seriously affects your credit rating and will make future loans of any kind very problematic. There are programs that can help with almost any circumstance.
You can renegotiate your repayment terms anytime.
Use your online account or contact Student Aid Alberta at 1-855-606-2096 and select option 3.
For Canada student loans, contact the National Student Loans Service Centre at 1-888-815-4514.