Financial help for students and recent grads affected by COVID-19

Being a student isn’t easy on your finances even at the best of times—and these most certainly aren’t the best of times. Hit with the double whammy of COVID-19 and its related economic slowdown, many post-secondary students and recent grads are worried, or already feeling a serious pinch.

We’ve compiled some frequently asked questions and answers about how to handle expenses and student loan repayments in the time of COVID-19, as well as some ideas to protect and grow any cash you’ve managed to save. 

What is the Canada Emergency Student Benefit?

On April 22, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced emergency benefits for students, totalling more than $9 billion. Those who are currently enrolled in a post-secondary program, as well as new grads, who aren’t able to work the summer jobs they anticipated having due to COVID-19 shutdowns, are eligible to receive $1,250 a month from the government; students with a disability, or who have dependents, are eligible for $1,750. 

I currently have a job, but my hours have been reduced. A lot. Do I qualify for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit?

If you’re employed, but making under $1,000 a month, you will be covered by the new Emergency Student Benefit.

Ok, but what about students who had a job, but can’t work anymore due to COVID-19 measures?

If you used to have a job and made at least $5,000 in the last year, you will be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB. (If you want to know more about the CERB, including how to apply, check out our coverage here.)  

What kinds of student loans are available?

The Prime Minister also announced that the weekly amount provided through the Canada student loans program will be increasing to $350 from $210  for the 2020-21 school year; as well, as an additional $75 million will be made available to Indigenous students. Finally, $290 million has been made available to granting councils to help fund graduate student scholarships and federal research grants.

I’ve heard about deferrals for student loan repayments. What are those?

The Federal government has suspended all interest accrual and payments on the Federal portion of your student loan until Sept. 30, 2020. If you normally make your payments by pre-authorized debit or by cheque, you don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the break; however, if you make automatic loan payments through your bank, you must contact your bank to stop the payments until after Sept. 30. 

If the provincial part of your loan was issued in Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan or British Columbia, you can sit tight as the deferral will also cover your provincial loans. However, if the provincial portion of your loan was issued in any of the remaining provinces or territories,  (that’s Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon, NWT and Nunavut), you’ll have to check with those loan providers directly. Note, this deferral only applies to students who have just graduated or are already paying their loans. So, if you’ve just graduated you don’t have to start paying until September and if you’re not graduating this year you won’t have to worry about making payments till after you do. 

Is there still time to get a job through the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program?  

Yes, however, the program has been modified. Prime Minister Trudeau announced an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private- and public-sector employers can receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each student summer employee. The employment period has also been extended to Feb. 28, 2021, and employers can adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services, thus allowing them to hire more staff on a part-time basis. 




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