April 4, 2023

As an international student in Canada, what are my options for financial aid?

For many students, attending post-secondary school in Canada can be an enriching and rewarding experience. However, the cost of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses can be daunting, particularly for international students. Fortunately, there are financial aid options available to help ease the burden.

Financial aid is a big part of the post-secondary education landscape in Canada. In fact, the Canada Student Financial Assistance (CFSA) program provides billions of dollars in non-repayable grants and loans to domestic students each year. However, there is a common misconception that international students are not eligible for financial aid while studying in Canada. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Although international students may not have access to the same financial aid options as domestic students, there are still scholarships, bursaries, and loans available to assist them with the costs of studying in Canada. Let's explore some of the options available.


Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are awarded to post-secondary students based on their academic or extracurricular achievements. These awards do not need to be repaid and are typically offered by the schools themselves, governments, or other organizations.

International students are eligible for many scholarship opportunities in Canada. For example, the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship program is offered at Ontario's University of Toronto and provides full tuition, books, incidental fees, and living expenses for four years of undergraduate study. The Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow Award is another example of a scholarship opportunity available to international students. Offered at the University of British Columbia, this award covers tuition and living expenses for up to four years of undergraduate study.



Bursaries are awarded to post-secondary students based on their financial needs. Students who meet certain income thresholds may receive financial support from their schools that they do not need to repay.

International students are also eligible for bursaries in Canada. To receive a bursary, applicants typically need to undergo an assessment to determine their level of financial need. Factors such as personal income or parental income may be taken into account during this assessment process.



Loans are a type of financial assistance that must be repaid based on the terms outlined in the loan agreement. Interest rates and repayment schedules are typically specified in the loan agreement.

International students may be required to seek out private loans from banks due to eligibility requirements imposed by the Canadian government at both the provincial and federal levels. Banks may offer loans, lines of credit, or other financial products to help international students cover the costs of studying in Canada. These financial products may come with special interest rates designed specifically for students, making repayment more manageable.

In conclusion, international students in Canada have several options for financial aid to help cover the costs of post-secondary education. Scholarships, bursaries, and loans are all available, although the specific options and requirements may vary depending on the school and province or territory in which the student is studying. It's essential to do research and speak with financial aid advisors to determine which options are best suited to each student's individual needs and circumstances.


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