There are two major places were you can apply for a student loan: Post-Secondary Education Financial Assistance Program (Government Student Loans) and your local bank or credit union.
Unlike scholarships and bursaries, student loans must eventually be repaid. While it is advantageous to receive money from scholarships and bursaries, these sources generally do not cover as many expenses. It is possible (but not guaranteed) to receive student loans in the thousands of dollars, which may pay for all of your tuition and supplies.
Government Student Loans
Government-subsidized loans are not handouts; they must be paid back. However, they are advantageous because you don't make payments or pay interest while you are a full-time student. You pay them back once you have finished school (whether you graduate or not) or if your course load falls below the minimum requirement.
Student loans are not intended to cover the entire cost of your education. You, and in some cases your immediate family (usually if you are considered a dependant), are expected to contribute as much as you can. The money from your student loan is to pay for food, shelter, tuition, books, and school supplies. It's NOT for vacations, paying off debts, or buying a new stereo system or a car.
The system for student loans in Canada is split between the federal and provincial government. If you receive a student loan, the amount is usually split between the two levels of government. Students applying for a Government Student Loan need to apply to the province in which they reside (Manitoba, for Winnipeg School Division students).
Visit the Manitoba Student Aid website at: http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/msa/
It is the responsibility of the student to do his/her research early in order to meet deadline or criteria changes. In the event of discrepancies between this site and the Manitoba Student Aid website, the Manitoba Student Aid website shall prevail.
Who Can Apply?
You must meet all of the following requirements in order to be eligible to apply for a Government Student Loan:
- Canadian citizen, permanent resident (landed immigrant), or Protected Person, as defined under Canadian Immigration Legislation
- Manitoba resident. (Generally, you are a resident if you've lived in Manitoba for the last 12 consecutive months before your post-secondary study period, not including time spent in post-secondary studies)
- Studying at an institution that is designated or is eligible to be approved for Canada Student Loans Program funding. If you're not sure, visit the Manitoba Student Loan - Institutions & Program web page.
- Program of study is also approved and is a minimum of 12 weeks in length within a period of 15 consecutive weeks.
- Not in default of previous federal or provincial student financial assistance.
- Can pass a credit check (for those 22 years of age or over, and applying for the first time).
- Your application tells the government how much your education and living expenses will be and how much money you have to put towards your education. The shortfall between these two is the basis for deciding how much assistance you get, if any.
Are you a dependant?
Generally you are considered to be a single dependent student unless:
- you have been out of high school for a minimum of 4 years.
- you have been in the workforce for at least 12 months in a row on two or more occasions and you were not a full-time student during that time.
- you are, or were, a permanent ward of a child and family services agency.
- your parents are deceased and you have no legal guardian.
- As a single dependent student, your parents may be expected to assist you financially to help pay for the cost of your education. Contact Manitoba Student Aid if you feel you have special circumstances.
When and How do I apply?
Apply for a student loan as soon as you know the name of your school, your program, and the start and end dates of your classes. It may take up to five weeks to process your loan application - longer if your application is not completed properly - so plan ahead.
There are two ways in which you may apply:
1. Paper application that you mail (approx. 5 weeks to process)
2. On-line application that you can save and return to at any time (approx. 2 weeks to process)
Suggestions / Tips
Here are a few suggestions and tips from Trevor, a student intern, based on his past experience:
- Read all the material with the application form before filling out an application.
- Never, NEVER lie on your application. Random audits are conducted every year and if it is found that you lied on your application, you won't be able to apply for another Government Student Loan, EVER.
- If the application asks for financial data that has not occurred yet (e.g. the application asks for Earnings from employment till the end of August, and it is currently June), give an honest estimate. If the amount you estimated turns out to be very different from the actual amount, you have the option to contact Manitoba Student Aid and inform them of the discrepancy, and they most likely will adjust accordingly.
- Keep a permanent file of all correspondence with the student loan office as you never know when you will need to reference the information.
- When you do receive any correspondence, make sure you read it carefully and note any documents/materials you may need to submit and the dates they are due. If you miss a due date, you may miss your chance of receive money.
- Keep track of all the money you earn from jobs, especially summer jobs, as you will need this information to gain access to your second semester loans.
- If you are entitled to a loan and do not seem to be receiving it after a week of the specified time, contact Manitoba Student Aid.
- If you receive a loan, some of it will most likely be put towards your tuition directly, so you won't ever handle that amount. The balance (if any) will be deposited into your bank/financial institution account.
Local Bank or Credit Union Student Loans
Most banks and credit unions have loans specifically for students. The conditions of the loan are usually different from regular loans. Generally bank loans:
- Are lower in interest than regular loans.
- Have a more complicated repayment structure. You do not have to repay the principal (the amount you borrowed) until you are no longer a student. You do, however, have to make payments on the interest from the beginning of the term of the loan.
- Have a maximum that can be borrowed each year.
- Need a co-signer (another person who is responsible for the loan, usually a parent).
Keep in mind that each financial institution may be different and have different requirements/obligations with student loans. If you are considering a bank student loan, be sure to visit a bank’s loan officer with a parent/guarding for more specific details/information.
*Some of the information on this page has been adapted from the Manitoba Student Aid website.