Policy & Procedure Updates

Social Insurance Number (SIN) Validation

In October 2017, we will begin to verify all SIN data and compare it with the National SIN Registry. A student’s SIN will have to be verified before their application will be assessed.

There are five data indicators that will be validated by the SIN database registry: 

    • Social Insurance Number
    • Last name 
    • First name 
    • Gender
    • Date of birth

Currently, all first-time applicants who submit full-time applications for loans and grants must sign one-time, multi-year agreements known as a Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) for both Canada and Alberta student loans. The agreements must be approved before a student can receive funding. The MSFAA contains all the data indicators tied to a SIN, and all data must be correct in order to have the MSFAAs approved. 

The new process will increase the accuracy of the student’s personal information on their MSFAAs.

 

Can’t Meet Financial Need – Online Application Message

Students will now see the following message prior to submitting their online application:

“If your financial need is higher than the allowable loan limit, you may not receive enough funding to cover your costs.”

Alberta Student Aid is limited in the amount of money it can provide to a student in a single loan year. This message informs students that Alberta Student Aid will not be able to meet their financial need if their costs are higher than the amount of funding we are able to provide to them. In the event that a student requires additional resources to cover their costs during the school year, this message will hopefully allow students to prepare for any outside funding that they may require.

 

Line 150 – Income Tax Returns

A message will be added to the application and schedules explaining that Alberta Student Aid will not reassess grant eligibility if the student makes changes to line 150 (total family income claimed on their income tax) after their funding has been issued.  A similar message will appear wherever we ask for the line 150 income of a student, their spouse/partner, or their parent(s).

The new message reads:

“The amount entered affects grant eligibility. If a change is submitted to this amount, grant eligibility will not be reassessed.”

 

Living at Home - Paying Rent or Mortgage

The application will now ask students “While attending school, I will”:

    • Not pay rent or mortgage
    • Pay rent or mortgage

Students will not be required to submit documentation of costs for rent or mortgage. This should allow students to receive an appropriate assessment on their initial application, rather than having to submit a Request for Reconsideration. 

Previously, students were asked if they will live with their parents or other. Once assessed, students would have to submit documentation with a Request for Reconsideration to account for rent costs if they were paying rent and living at home.

 

Federal Changes Fixed Rate Contribution

A fixed-rate contribution will be used to determine federal eligibility. This replaces the current system of assessing student income and financial assets. This change allows students to work and gain labour market experience without having to worry about a reduction to their financial assistance. This also benefits adult learners, many of whom are already employed prior to returning to post-secondary studies.

Rather than considering the student’s financial assets, pre-study income, and income while in school, students will be assessed for a fixed student contribution amount based on Line 150 and their family size. This will reflect a reasonable amount the student will be expected to contribute to the cost of their education. The Canada Student Loans program expects a student contribution of a minimum of $1,500 up to a maximum of $3,000. If the total household income is above the fixed-rate income threshold, the student contribution will be 15% of the income above the threshold.  

Student Contribution will be waived if the student:

    • has a dependent, or 
    • has a permanent disability, or 
    • is a current or former Ward of the Crown (foster or kinship care), or 
    • declares Indigenous Status

 

Spousal/Partner Fixed Rate Contribution

For married and common-law students, a spousal contribution will be included in the federal calculation. The spousal contribution will be 10% of the gross family income above the income threshold, with no maximum contribution. However, if the family income is below the threshold, no contribution is required. 

The amount of the student and spousal contribution is based on how long the student’s study period is, and will be calculated based on a maximum of eight months (34.6667 weeks) of study. If the student is studying for less than eight months, they will only require a student contribution for the months in full-time studies. If they are attending a ten month program, they will still receive a maximum student contribution amount based on an eight month period of study.

 The spousal contribution will be waived if one of the following conditions are met:

    • the spouse/partner is a student, 
    • the spouse/partner is receiving  federal, or provincial, disability benefits, or 
    • the spouse/partner is receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or Income Support (Social Assistance)

For more detail on the Student Fixed Rate Contribution, go to:

 

Child Care

The employment status and income of a student’s spouse is no longer factored in the assessment, and have no bearing on the allowable childcare costs.  The federal allowable child care costs now match the provincial costs at $724 per month with no receipts and $1200 per month with receipts regardless of the employment status of the student’s spouse or common-law partner. In previous years, Student Aid would not consider providing child care expenses for the loan year if a student’s spouse/partner was unemployed.