Canadian Post-secondary Education More Accessible and Affordable

Author: Employment and Social Development Canada
Published: 2016/08/31 - Updated: 2017/10/19
Contents: Summary - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: Government of Canada making significant change to student financial assistance to help students returning to class.


For generations, Canadian parents told their children a similar story: if you want a good job, stay in school. Young Canadians took this message to heart. Unfortunately, for too many Canadians rising costs have made post-secondary education less affordable. Fewer people are able to save enough for their education which prevents them from acquiring the learning and skills they need to get a good job and join the middle class. That's why the Government of Canada is making a significant change to student financial assistance that will help students returning to class this fall on campuses across the country.

Main Digest

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, was at Humber College to announce increases to Canada Student Grants and changes to the Repayment Assistance Plan on behalf of the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

On August 1, in time for the 2016–17 school year, Canada Student Grant amounts increased by 50 percent; from $2,000 to $3,000 per year for full-time students from low-income families; from $800 to $1,200 per year for students from middle-income families; and from $1,200 to $1,800 per year for part-time students from low-income families. These increases will help over 270,000 students in Ontario alone. As a result of these enhancements, when combined with provincial student grants, the average full-time undergraduate student from a low-income family in Ontario could receive up to $6,000 in grants.

Additionally, beginning November 1, the Government of Canada will ease the rules on its Repayment Assistance Plan by ensuring that no single borrower will be required to make any repayment until he or she is earning at least $25,000 per year.

Taken together, these enrichments will help Canada's students by relieving the high cost of a post-secondary education so they may equip themselves with education and skills they need to join a strong, healthy and vibrant middle class.

To complement the changes to Canada Student Grants, the Government of Canada is also making historic investments in the spaces where students learn, experiment and achieve through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. Today, Minister Duncan also announced more than $21 million for Humber College in support of two sustainable infrastructure projects that will enable students to create energy-efficient living environments and will retrofit buildings on campus so they use less energy. The Province of Ontario will contribute an additional $3.3 million and Humber College will add more than $39 million bringing the total investment to $64.55 million. In this way, the Strategic Investment Fund will jump-start a virtuous circle of discovery and innovation, creating the right conditions for long-term growth that will yield benefits for generations to come.


"By providing significant financial assistance to students and investing in the spaces where students learn, our government is building a brighter future for all Canadians. When students, such as those attending Humber College, can afford their education, they will be able to gain the kind of education and experience they need to contribute to strengthening our economy and our community."
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"Education is the key to future success and prosperity. Our investments are making post-secondary education more affordable and more accessible for more students. It's going to help grow the Canadian middle class and help Canadians get the skills and experience they need for good jobs."
-The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

"I'm delighted that the federal government is moving ahead with its changes to Canada Student Grants to make college and university more affordable for Ontario students. These changes support Ontario's move forward with one of the most ambitious reforms of student financial assistance in North America, making tuition free for families with income below $50,000 and allowing students to graduate with less debt. When complete, over 150,000 students will receive more in grants than they need to pay tuition, providing them with money for other costs including books."
The Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier, Ontario Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Minister Responsible for Digital Government

"This funding will enable Humber to continue to support two of our core values: innovation and sustainability. With this announcement, the federal government has acknowledged the significant role that postsecondary institutions play in fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, research and environmental sustainability."
Chris Whitaker, President and CEO of Humber College

"After spending several years living and volunteering in Kampala, Uganda, I saw first-hand how vulnerable women and children can be. I'm now completing my nursing degree at Humber so I can return to Kampala one day and specialize in maternal care. Receiving a Canada Student Grant means I will graduate with less debt and be able to go back to Uganda sooner to make a difference."
Aimee Duncalfe, recipient of Canada Student Grant and Humber College Bachelor of Nursing student

Quick Facts

Canada Student Loans and Grants

Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

BUDGET 2016 – Making Post-Secondary Education More Affordable

Enhancing Canada Student Grants

Canada Student Grants (CSGs) provide up-front, non-repayable financial assistance to low- and middle-income students and students with permanent disabilities or dependents. Eligibility is assessed at the time the student applies for student loans.

Budget 2016 proposed to increase CSG amounts by 50 percent:

Increasing the CSGs would benefit over 350,000 students across Canada : approximately 247,000 low-income students; 100,000 middle-income students; and 16,000 part-time students per year. This measure will provide assistance of $1.53 billion over five years, starting in 2016–17.

Budget 2016 also proposed to expand eligibility for CSGs to help even more students receive non-repayable assistance through an investment of $790 million over four years. The new eligibility thresholds are expected to be in place for the 2017–18 academic year, following consultations with provinces and territories. Under the new model, the existing low- and middle-income thresholds will be replaced with a single progressive threshold under which grant amounts will gradually decline based on income and family size.

Repayment Assistance Plan

For Canada Student Loan borrowers having difficulty making their payments following their studies, the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) can offer help. The RAP makes it easier for borrowers to manage their student loans by paying back what they can reasonably afford, based on their family income and size. Students must apply for the RAP in order to receive this support.

Since its introduction in 2009, the Repayment Assistance Plan income thresholds, which currently begin at $20,210 (gross income), have not been adjusted and do not reflect minimum wage increases.

Budget 2016 proposed to increase the loan repayment threshold under the Canada Student Loans Program's Repayment Assistance Plan to ensure that no borrower who applies will have to repay their Canada Student Loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year. This income threshold is for a single individual; for other family sizes, see the table below. Students earning more than this amount may also be eligible for reduced payments. Students who think they may face difficulties repaying their loans should contact the National Student Loans Service Centre to learn more. This measure will provide assistance of $131.4 million over five years, starting on November 1, 2016.

Annual Family Gross Income Thresholds for RAP Zero Payment by Family Size
Family SizeCurrent RAP ThresholdsRAP Thresholds as of Nov. 1Percentage Change

Provincial and territorial information for Canada Student Loans and Grants

The Government of Canada works with most provincial or territorial governments to deliver federal and provincial student loans and grants.

Non-participating jurisdictions

Quebec, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories chose not to participate in the Canada Student Loans Program and receive an alternative payment from the Government of Canada to administer their own student financial assistance measures.


Although the Government of Canada directly finances federal student loans, Ontario processes Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) applications and conducts eligibility assessments for Canada Student Loans and Grants alongside provincial student loans and grants. Up to 60 percent of an Ontario student's demonstrated financial need is covered by the CSLP, with Ontario covering the remaining need through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), up to a stipulated maximum amount. The CSLP has an integration agreement with Ontario, which means that students from Ontario have a single loan repayment.

The CSLP and Ontario, alongside other provinces and territories, work closely together to improve the coordination of federal and provincial programs, to improve student financial assistance, and to respond to the needs of students.

Ontario Student Grants

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, Ontario is bundling many existing provincial OSAP grants into a single up-front Ontario Student Grant.

The changes will make average college and university tuition free for most eligible students, whose parents make a combined household income of less than $50,000 per year. The grant will be available to full-time students only.

The changes also apply to middle-to-upper income families and include:

Additionally in 2017-18, the Government of Ontario will be:

For more information and to learn how to apply, visit

Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a $2-billion initiative designed to modernize research and commercialization facilities at Canadian universities, colleges and polytechnics.

Through the program, the Government of Canada is partnering with the provinces and territories to fund projects that:

Research and teaching hospitals, research parks, and business incubators and accelerators are also eligible for funding through their affiliated university or college.

The Fund will support up to 50 percent of a project's eligible costs. The remaining funding will come from other partners, such as provincial and territorial governments, and the institutions themselves.

These once-in-a-generation investments will promote economic activity across Canada. They will result in state-of-the-art facilities to not only train the next generation of highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs but also serve as hubs of discovery and collaboration. They will nurture the development of innovations that help Canadian companies compete and grow internationally.

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