Independent and Dependent Students

Independent Students

Reg.: Schedule 2, s. 1(1)(i)

Alberta Student Aid distinguishes between independent and dependent students to help determine residency, eligibility for Canada Student Loan Program funding, and eligibility for grants.

Students are considered independent when, as of the study period start date on their application, they:

  • are a single student with a dependent child (e.g. single parent, guardian),
  • are (or have been) married or in a common-law relationship,
  • have been out of regular high school more than four years,
  • are 23 years of age or older, or
  • have been available to the labour force full-time for two periods of twelve consecutive months. These two periods need not be consecutive.

Special Independent Status

Reg.: Schedule 2, s. 1(1)(i)(vii)

This policy describes circumstances where a dependent student may be considered an independent student by the Minister for purposes of determining the student’s residency and financial eligibility for different types of funding.

Special Independent Status is granted when one of the following circumstances exist:

  • a single student has financial responsibility for a wholly dependent individual such as a disabled or elderly family member,
  • both parents are deceased, or
  • a student is a current or former youth in government care:
    • If the student is 18 years of age or older as of the study period start date on their application and on the day before their 18th birthday was in the custody of the Director under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, the subject of a temporary or permanent guardianship order, a permanent guardianship agreement, or another order under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or equivalent legislation in another jurisdiction.
    • If the student is under 18 years of age as of the study period start date on their application and is in the custody of the Director under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, the subject of a temporary or permanent guardianship order, a permanent guardianship agreement, or another order under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or equivalent legislation in another jurisdiction.

If none of the above circumstances apply, Special Independent Status may be granted if there is a significant breakdown in the student’s relationship with the student’s parents. The following documentation is required:

  • a letter from the student that outlines the family circumstances, and
  • a letter from a third-party professional (e.g., social worker, psychologist, high school counselor, etc.) corroborating the circumstances.

Students who are approved for Special Independent Status will be treated as independent students for all future applications.

Students granted Special Independent Status will be considered independent for eligibility purposes for all available provincial and federal funding, including Canada Student Grants.

Instead of requesting Special Independent Status, a dependent student may choose to not complete the Parental Schedule Part B. In this case, the student will only be considered for Alberta Student Loans.

Dependent Students

Reg.: Schedule 2, s. 1(1)(d)

All students who are not independent are considered dependent upon their parents. Dependent students are subject to:

  • different residency rules than independent students, and
  • different financial eligibility requirements for some types of funding than independent students.