Student Loans, Scholarships and Bursaries

If you are planning to pursue graduate or postgraduate studies in Canada as an international student, tuition fees in Canada can be very high, and international students are required to provide proof of funds for the entirety of their study period in order to obtain a temporary study permit.

Most graduate and postgraduate institutions in Canada charge special tuition fees to international students, which are often two to four times that of Canadian students. This is because Canadian universities cannot apply provincial or national funding to subsidize international student’s tuition. The average tuition for an undergraduate humanities program in Canada is $5,000; therefore international students can expect to pay $10,000 to $20,000 tuition per year, for a four to five year undergraduate program.

Some Canadian universities may offer entrance scholarships ($500-$10,000) to encourage international students to enroll. Some schools also offer dedicated scholarships to international students, such as Victoria BC’s Royal Roads University’s International Student Awards. Many schools also offer small, emergency loans to international students to cover unforeseen costs, such as dental or vision expenses, moving costs, expensive textbooks, etc. Such emergency loans are issued on a case-by-case basis, and monetary amounts depend on need.

Unfortunately, other funding options for international students in Canada are limited.

Student Loans

International students studying on a student visa in Canada are not eligible for bank loans or government issued student loans.  If you are planning to apply for landed immigrant status, you may become eligible for loans once your landed status has been received.

Student loan programs are available for protected persons in Canada, as designated by the Immigration and Refugee Board and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Applicants must present a Protected Persons Status Document (PPSD) and temporary Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Private Loan Companies

Private companies, such as The Paras Education Foundation, offer student loans to international students studying in Canada. No collateral or margin money is required, and repayment periods are up to 20 years. Loans are available to all international students, regardless of nationality, with a cap of up to $65,000 USD per year per co-guarantor. Interest rates range from 7% to 8%.

The Global Student Loan Corporation offers similar services, and do not require a Canadian cosigner. In addition to covering your tuition, Global Student Loan Corporation also provides funding for other school related essentials such as insurance, electronics, travel, and housing.

Some universities and post-graduate programs in Canada offer specialized financial assistance to international students, in partnership with financial institutions such as Scotiabank or RBC.

Scholarships and Bursaries

The Government of Canada also offers scholarships and bursaries to non-Canadian students, researchers, faculty, and academic institutions. A complete list of scholarships and bursaries available for international students can be found here.

Notable scholarship opportunities for non-Canadians include those offered by

Most of these scholarships are aimed towards foreign postgraduate and doctorate students.

Assistance from your home country

International students are encouraged to investigate what funding opportunities are available in their home country. American students may be eligible for the US federal loans program, while some countries offer subject-specific funding, such as Barbados, which offers a four-year loan program to students studying hospitality abroad.

By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.