Full-time course load

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, or
  • have a permanent disability and are enrolled in at least 40% of a full-time course load
  • are attending a licensed private career college in a program that is 12 weeks or longer and has 20+ instruction/practicum hours per week

For example, in a standard undergraduate program, one to two courses per semester is usually considered part-time. Three to five courses is usually considered full-time.

If you drop below the minimum course load for full-time studies, you’ll become a part-time student. This will affect your eligibility and Student Aid will reassess your account. You may be required to pay back some grant money.

Student Aid doesn’t determine course loads. Contact an advisor at your school to determine how many courses you need to take to be a full-time student.


Program length

Student Aid considers the length of your program when determining your eligibility. You are eligible for full-time student aid for the number of years specified for your program + one additional year.

Students with permanent disabilities are exempt from the “program length + one year” limitation.For example, if you’re in a four-year degree program, you can get full-time aid for five years. If you’re in a two-year certificate program, you can get full-time aid for three years.

Learn more about how the length of your program affects your eligibility for student aid.

Academic progress

To continue receiving student aid, you must make reasonable progress through your program. This means you cannot apply for aid for the same program year more than twice.

For example, you can receive aid for year one of a four-year degree program for two years. The third time Student Aid will deny your application.

Students with permanent disabilities are exempt from this requirement.

Learn more about academic progress.


Citizenship and residency

To receive student aid for full-time studies, you must:

You must also be a resident of Alberta.

Residency is determined differently for independent and dependent students:

Independent Dependent

You are independent if you:

  • are married or common law
  • are divorced, separated, or widowed
  • have at least one dependent child
  • are 23 years old or older
  • have been out of high school for at least 4 years
  • have been available for full-time work for at least 2 years since leaving high school

All other students are considered dependent on their parents or guardians.

You are an Alberta resident if:

  • 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

You are an Alberta resident if:

  • at least one of your parents lives in Alberta

Financial need

You must have financial need to receive student aid.

We calculate your financial need using this formula: Costs – Resources = Financial need

Costs Resources Financial need

How much you expect to pay toward living and education

How much you already have or expect to receive

How much you’ll get in loans and/or grants

Includes tuition, fees, living expenses, childcare costs, etc.

Includes parent contribution, AISH payments, EI payments, etc.

Students must contribute some of their own money.

*the student and spouse/partner contributions to will waived by the Government of Canada for 2020-21. 

You can receive your calculated financial need as long as it doesn’t exceed your loan limits.

See a complete list of what Student Aid counts as allowable costs and student resources.


School and program eligibility

Your school and program must be eligible for student aid.

To see if your school and program are eligible, use the school and program eligibility search tool.


Special circumstances

You may be eligible to apply for student aid as a full-time student if you fall into any of the following categories:

Multiple schools at once

If you’re enrolled part-time at multiple schools so that your total course load adds up to full-time, this is known as concurrent enrollment. You can apply for student aid as a full-time student.

In this case, you choose one of your schools to be your “primary educational institution”, and you complete your Student Aid application with their information. Once you’ve submitted your application online, upload a Schedule 3 for concurrent enrollment with the rest of your school information.

Integrated internship

If you’re participating in an integrated internship, co-op, or practicum as part of your program of study, you may be eligible for student aid. An internship is integrated if:

  • you must complete the internship to receive your degree, diploma, or certificate, and
  • your school considers you to be a full-time student during the internship

Exchange or field study

If you’re participating in an exchange or field study program, you can apply for student aid as a full-time student.

Studying outside of Canada

If you’re enrolled in and paying tuition to a school outside Canada, you can still receive student aid for full-time students, as long as your school and program are eligible.  

When you apply for student aid online, you must enter your costs and resources in Canadian dollars, factoring in exchange rates.

You can submit a request to recalculate your loan amount if the exchange rate changes significantly. You could be eligible for more money.