1. Understand what Student Aid is

Student Aid is a government service that provides student loans, grants, scholarships, and awards to help you pay for your post-secondary education. Student aid may not cover all of your costs, so you’ll need to plan to make up the difference.

You only have to submit one application to be considered for loans and grants from both Alberta’s government and Canada’s government. Most students get money from both, which means you may get two smaller loans instead of one big one. Learn more about scholarships and awards.

You should:

  • Apply early. The only way to know for sure how much money you’ll get is to apply and wait for your award letter. You should apply at least 60 days before your classes start so that you have time to figure out your finances.

  • Apply every year. You can apply for student aid for up to 12 months at a time. If your period of study is longer, you need to submit another application.
Student loans are interest-free while you study. You don’t make any payments while you’re a student, and they won’t acquire interest until 6 months after you leave school.

2. Determine whether you’re a full-time or part-time student

Student aid is calculated differently for full-time and part-time students. Also, the process of applying for student aid is different.

Your school determines whether you’re full-time or part-time based on your course load, not Student Aid. At many schools, it’s possible to take fewer than the maximum amount of courses and still be considered a full-time student.

If you’re not sure whether you are a full- or part-time student, speak with an advisor at your school.

3. Find out what you’re eligible for

To qualify for student aid, you must:

  • maintain academic progress
  • meet residency or citizenship requirements
  • have financial need
  • be enrolled in a program approved by Student Aid

Use the Student Financial Assistance Estimator to predict roughly how much money you can get. Full-time student aid is calculated based on program type and financial need. Part-time student aid is calculated differently.

Learn more about:

There are also limits to how much money you can receive, which change depending on your program of study.


4. Gather information for your application

Have this information ready when you sit down to apply:

Everyone needs to provide Special circumstances
  • personal information: address, phone number, email, birthdate, gender

  • Social Insurance Number

  • Alberta Student Number

  • total income amount from last year (Line 15000 of Income Tax Return)

  • emergency contact information

  • academic information: program length, start and end dates, your student ID number (if known)

  • financial information: amount of money you’ll get from your parents or other sources, value of awards you’ll receive, expected reduced yearly income while you’re in school

Dependent students, provide your parents’ or guardians’ name(s), Line 15000, family size, number of children in family attending post-secondary

Married or common law students, provide your spouse’s or partner’s name, birthdate, Social Insurance Number, Line 15000, expected reduced yearly income

Students with dependent children, provide your child’s name, birthdate, monthly childcare costs (if they’re under 12)

Students enrolled at multiple schools or doing an exchange/field study, provide name of your primary school, name of your additional school, airfare costs (if applicable)

Students with permanent disabilities, provide proof of your permanent disability, copies of a medical letter, a learning disability assessment or documentation proving you are receiving disability assistance such as AISH, an estimate of equipment costs and an assessment fee

If you’re a full-time student, use the Student Aid Worksheet Full-Time to prepare the information you need to complete your application. This will make the application process easier.


5. Create your Student Aid Account

Full-time students need to create a Student Aid account to apply online. Use your account to access your inbox, where you’ll receive important messages from Student Aid.

For part-time students, this account is optional. You will also receive important messages by mail.

To create your account, you must verify your identity. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Verify your identity through MyAlberta Digital ID, using:
    1. an Alberta driver's license, or
    2. an identification card.

  2. Verify your identity through Secure Identity and Access Management System (SIAMS), using:
    1. two Alberta High School Diploma level official marks, or
    2. Alberta Student Aid Agreement Number or Canada Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) Number, or
    3. Alberta or Canada Cashed Loan Certificate Number (loans prior to 2013).
If you’ve never applied before and can’t provide any of the above information, you may still be able to apply online. However, you’ll have limited access to your account until you verify your identity.

6. Complete your application

The process of applying for student aid is different for full-time and part-time students:

  • Full-time students submit their application online through their Student Aid account.

  • Part-time students must complete the part-time application form and and follow the instructions on the form to submit.

If you need help, contact Student Aid.


7. Submit additional forms (if required)

There are some instances where you may be required to submit additional forms: 

Student with permanent disabilities

The first time you apply, you must submit a Schedule 4 form that explains your disability and what supports you need.

You must also submit medical documents, which may include:

  • copies of a medical letter
  • a learning assessment
  • a document proving you get federal and/or provincial disability assistance, for example, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)

Upload these documents through your Student Aid account, or mail them to Student Aid. You won’t need to submit this information the next time you apply, unless you’re requesting a grant for disability-related equipment or assistive services.

For more information, see the Schedule 4 form or speak to a disability advisor at your school.

If you request funding for assistive services and technology or equipment, you must provide an estimate of your costs. New estimates are required each additional time you request funding.

Married or common-law students

If this is your first time applying for student aid, your spouse or partner must sign a Consent and Declaration form.

This form will be sent to your Student Aid account inbox after you’ve submitted your application. You can submit it electronically through your Student Aid account, but it must have an original signature.

Multiple schools at once

If you’re enrolled at multiple schools at once, this is known as concurrent enrolment. You can’t apply for student aid online. You must mail in a paper application that includes:

Exchange or field study

If you’re participating in an exchange or field study program you must submit the following:

  • Part 2 (Exchange/Field Study) of the Schedule 3 Concurrent Enrolment/Field Study form, and

  • a letter of confirmation from the home institution or an acceptance letter from the host institution (the letter should confirm start and end dates and list costs for tuition, mandatory fees and books)

Studying outside of Canada

If you’re studying outside of Canada you may want to submit a Power of Attorney form for Alberta. When you assign a Power of Attorney, you authorize someone else to act on your behalf regarding matters related to student aid.

The forms typically used by lawyers are also acceptable.

Aviation training

If you’re enrolled in a Commercial Aviation Training program or a Fixed Wing Training program you may be eligible for full-time student aid. You must submit a Commercial Aviation Training form.

The above reference forms, are available in the Applications and Forms section.


8. Wait for Student Aid to contact you

If there are no issues with your application, it will take Student Aid a few days to process it. Most applicants hear back quickly. However, in some cases it can take up to 45 days.

You’ll receive one of the following in your Student Aid account inbox:

  • An award letter indicating how much loan and/or grant money you’ll receive, or
  • A request for information missing from your original application, or
  • A rejection letter

If you believe you should receive more money, or are not sure why you were rejected, you can request a review of your account.


9. Complete your loan agreement(s)

Before we can send you the money:

  • You must complete your loan agreement(s)
  • Your school must confirm that you’re registered in the program you stated on your application

We’ll explain all of this in your award letter.

Learn more about what happens after you’re approved for a student loan.


10. Get your money

The earliest you can get your money is one week before your classes start. Student Aid will pay tuition and mandatory fees directly to your school and deposit any remaining money into the bank account you provided.

The remaining money may not be transferred to you all at once. Instead, it may be spread out over the course of your school year. Check your disbursement schedule in your award letter or by logging into your Student Aid account.

If you’re getting the Alberta Part-Time Grant, we’ll mail it to you as a cheque.

Students with permanent disabilities

Grant for assistive services and equipment

If you receive a grant for disability related assistive services and equipment, Student Aid will mail you information about the amount of your grant and its purpose.

You must submit receipts for the assistive services and equipment you buy before the end of your current study period. Use the Reconciliation Worksheet to record your purchases.

You must return any unused funds to Student Aid.

Reimbursement for a learning assessment

The Canada Student Grants program covers a portion of the cost of a Learning Assessment (a maximum of $1,700 per loan year) if the assessment confirms you have a learning disability.

You pay for the assessment up front and Student Aid reimburses you later. The assessment must take place no earlier than 6 months before you start your studies.

You’ll need to submit your receipt to Student Aid.

Studying outside of Canada

If you’re studying outside of Canada, Student Aid cannot deposit your money into a foreign bank account. You must provide us with a Canadian bank account that you hold, or jointly hold.

You will not have access to your money until the day your program starts. Student Aid will not release your funds for tuition and books until your school confirms your registration and you start classes.