Determine Eligibility

Full-time or Part-time Students

Remember, student aid is meant to supplement, not replace, your own resources. A student loan may not cover all your costs and you will be responsible for making up the difference.

Eligibility for a student loan is different for full-time and part-time students.

Alberta Student Aid considers you a full-time student if you are:

  • Enrolled in at least 60% of what your school considers a full-time course load.
    Only post-secondary courses can be used to determine your eligibility. 
  • A student with a permanent disability approved to study at a reduced course load. 

Because Student Aid does not determine course loads, you must ask a student advisor or a disability advisor/reviewer at your school about how many courses you need to take to be considered either a full-time or part-time student.

If you drop below 60% of a full-time course load during your term, you will be considered part-time. Your eligibility for full-time funding for the semester in which you applied will be reassessed. If you continue your studies in the next semester, you will have to reapply for funding. This may not apply if you are a student with a permanent disability.

Learn more about student aid eligibility and funding for part-time studies.

Determine Your Eligibility (full-time students)

Before you apply for a loan, you need to make sure you’re eligible. Keep in mind, just because you apply for a student loan does not guarantee you will qualify for a student loan.

Basic Eligibility Criteria

To receive student aid for full-time studies, you must meet all of these basic eligibility criteria:

  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or have protected person status under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Students with a study permit are not eligible. 
  • be a resident of Alberta
  • be enrolled as a full-time student taking a minimum 60% of a full course load (40% of a full course load if you are a  student with a permanent disability)
  • be enrolled in an eligible program at an approved post-secondary school
  • have financial need

Other factors may also affect your eligibility, including:

  • your credit rating if you are a first time applicant, 22 years or older
  • previous student loans in default
  • declaring bankruptcy while repaying student loans

Alberta Residency Requirement

To be eligible for student aid, you must be an Alberta resident. To determine your residency, you first need to know if you are considered a dependent or an independent student.

Independent Student (you must meet at least one of the following): 

  • 23 years of age or older
  • have been out of high school for at least 4 years
  • have been available for full time work for at least two years since leaving high school
  • are married or common law
  • are divorced, separated, or widowed
  • have at least one dependent child of your own  

If you do not meet at least one of these points, you are considered a dependent student.

You may be eligible for Special Independent Status in the following circumstances:

  • When there is a significant break in your relationship with your parents (documentation is required). 
  • You are or have been a Youth in Government Care.

Learn more in the Special Independent Status section of the Student Aid Operational Policy & Procedural Manual:

Residency for Independent Students

  • Alberta is the province in which you have most recently lived for 12 consecutive months while not a full time post-secondary student, or
  • You have never lived in any other Canadian province for 12 consecutive months and are attending a post-secondary school in Alberta

Residency for Dependent Students

  • At least one of your parents must live in Alberta

Financial Need

Alberta Student Aid and the Canada Student Loans Program calculate your eligibility using a Financial Need formula comparing your costs with your resources. The formula is:

Your assessed Financial Need is then compared with the student aid Loan Limits allowed for your study period. The lesser of these two amounts is what you are eligible to receive.

Student aid is meant to supplement, not replace, your own resources. Student loans may not cover all your costs and you could be responsible for making up the difference.

Check Your School and Program Eligibility

You will also need to check your school and program eligibility. Find out if your school and program is designated for funding.

Study Outside of Alberta and Canada

There is also special information if you are going to school outside of Alberta and/or Canada.