Canadian Student Loans

Federal and provincial governments in Canada work together to provide loans, grants and bursaries to help students access and pay for post-secondary education.

The National Student Loan Service Centre webinar provides an introduction to government student loans, as well as what is expected of you at each stage of the loan process.

How to apply

Fill out either the full-time or part-time loan application, depending on your type of study. Applications are available through your province’s provincial student loan office. By filling out the application, you’ll be assessed for both federal and provincial loans and grants.

If you have a permanent disability, you may be able to apply for the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities for Services and Equipment. This application is also found on your provincial student loan office website.

Student loan registration requirements

Full-time loans

In most provinces you’ll need to be registered in at least 60% of a full course load. For students from Newfoundland and Labrador, registration in 80% is required for the provincial portion and 60% is required for the federal portion. Students who have been assessed as having a permanent disability are eligible for a full-time loan at 40%.

Please note: a typical full course load at Dalhousie is comprised of 15 credit hours.

Part-time loans

If you’re registered for 20% to 40% of a full course load, complete the part-time loan application (except students who were assessed as having a permanent disability).

Please note: a typical full course load at Dalhousie is comprised of 15 credit hours.

Things you need to know

  1. Be sure to review your loan assessment to find out how much funding you’ll receive and when you’ll receive it.
  2. If you aren’t receiving enough funding, call your provincial loan office. You may be able to appeal the amount.
  3. Fully register in all of your classes for both terms by mid-August, before loans are confirmed.
  4. If there’s a year where you won’t need a loan or your loan will be late, complete a Confirmation of Enrollment (unfunded) request through the National Student Loan Service Center portal to keep your loan in interest-free status.  Please note: Ontario students need to complete a Continuation of Interest Free Status Application through the OSAP portal to keep their loans in interest-free status.
  5. If you drop classes, it may affect your student loan.  Check the Refund Schedule and ask the Registrar's Office for advice before you drop a class. Possible consequences could include, but are not limited to the following:
    • Student loan amounts may be reassessed based on a reduction in tuition fees.
    • Dropping below minimum registration requirements may result in the cancelation of 2nd disbursements of loan funding and an overaward may be assessed by the student aid office.
    • Reducing a courseload may require additional years of study, which may be beyond student aid program years of eligibility.
    • By not receiving a passing grade in or by dropping below the minimum registration required, student aid may assess a "probation" on your student loan file.  Receiving two probations may remove student loan eligibility for one year.
    • Student loan policy may differ from province to province, please be sure to contact your provincial student aid office to disscuss your situation.  Be sure to ask about options for sumitting appeals if there is a negative affect on your student loan.

Programs not eligible for government loan funding

Special student status & Qualifying programs

Special student status or qualifying programs aren’t funded by most provinces. If you’re taking classes to get into an upper level program (but aren’t currently in a degree program), call your provincial student loan office to see if they will fund a qualifying year.

Certificate programs

Certificate programs at Dalhousie aren’t eligible for government student loan funding.

Post Graduate Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry

Post Graduate Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry aren’t eligible for federal or provincial loan funding. For Post Graduate Medicine, the following provinces have developed programs that exempt repayment of the provincial portion while in residency: Alberta, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Students from other provinces should contact their provincial student loan office for options.

Optional internships

Optional internships not part of your degree program aren’t eligible for government student loan funding.

Programs developed to be part-time

Programs which have been developed to be part-time (i.e. MBA Leadership) aren’t eligible for full or part-time government student loan funding.

Provincial and territorial student loans websites

Negotiating your student loan

Dalhousie electronically signs most student loans once your loan has been assessed. We start confirming loans in mid-August and for winter disbursement, mid-December. If your loan is covering both terms, it’s important that you’re fully registered for both terms by early August. If you aren’t fully registered and your loan is reassessed, your funding may get reduced.

Summer student loan eligibility varies in each province. If you have questions, contact your provincial loan office or email

Repaying your student loan

The National Student Loan Service Center offers a student loan repayment webinar.

Student loan questions

If you have questions about your student loan assessment, please contact your provincial student aid office.

If you have questions about your student loan confirmation of enrolment, please email or visit a Registrar's Office Service Centre.