How to invest in yourself 

Post-secondary education is considered an investment in your future, statistics show that those who do attend and graduate from post-secondary studies have a definite advantage in the work place. However, not all students have the financial ability to attend post-secondary school without financial assistance. So, each year thousands of students apply for and receive student loans. If you are looking for a student loan I hope the following information will be helpful.

A student loan is a loan designed to help Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada meet the growing costs of post-secondary education. Provincial and federal governments fund these loans. Remember to consider all your financing options very carefully before taking out any type of loan including student loans. This is not free money – you will have to pay it back – with interest.

Once you have considered all of your financial options and decided to take out a student loan here is the process that you will be required to follow:

  • Get your application – from your high school counsellor, post-secondary financial aid office or your government web site. Print off a student loan application, find out if your government pays the interest during your grace period, and if they offer interest relief.

     Government of Canada
     British Columbia
     New Brunswick
     Newfoundland &  Labrador
     Nova Scotia
     NW Territories
     Prince Edward Island
  • Complete the application and submit it online if possible - the service is faster.
  • Wait – the process usually takes 4 to 6 weeks. If you qualify for funding the government will send you a Certificate of Eligibility.
  • Confirm your enrolment – Take the certificate to your post-secondary financial aid office they will sign the document to confirm your enrolment. If your enrolment is not confirmed the certificate cannot be processed.
  • Sign the certificate – if it's not signed it can not be processed.
  • Take in the certificate to the service provider or financial institution that services your governments student loan program. The provincial program web site or information on the certificate will confirm where you need to send the documents.
  • Be patient – The service provider or financial institution will then process the certificate and disperse the funds to you. The loan procedure usually takes about 48 hours and then up to 5 business days for you to receive your money.

To make things easier some provinces (Ontario and Saskatchewan) are now integrating their student loan programs with the Government of Canada program. The result is that the student will now only have one loan to worry about and one set of rules.

When you apply for your loan be sure all the information is correct and that your loan application is fully completed and signed. Read the application carefully so you are sure to include all the information and so that you understand fully your responsibility. You have just signed a contract to borrow money – Money that you will have to repay with interest – this is a very big step. Include your banking information so the funds can be paid directly into your bank account.

Student loan update

Once you have your student loan you will be required to update your loan information each school year. Be sure to do this every year that you are a student so to avoid your loan being put into repayment status prematurely.

  1. You can do this by:
    – getting a new student loan
    – advise the financial institution that provided you with the new loan to update your current student status.
  2. Confirm your enrolment:
    – obtain a Confirmation of Enrolment form from your financial aid office and remit the application as directed.

Things to remember

The financial institution that processed the loan will advise you of the repayment terms. Be sure to ask how many months you will have to repay the loan and what the required monthly payments will be. In most cases loans are automatically given the maximum repayment term possible under your government loan program.

Interest is paid on your loan by the government as long as you are in school and your loan status is up-to-date.

Next Week: Debt management tools for student loans.