Need Not Apply

Hidden Barriers for Canadian Students Accessing Financial Aid

OTTAWA, July, 2024 - Results from a new report detail the concerning challenges for post-secondary students when accessing Canada’s current student aid program.  Need Not Apply is a report commissioned by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) to identify ways to improve access to federal student aid for those who need it most.

The report concludes that the Canada Student Financial Aid (CSFA) program is in need of significant reform, in order to more fully reflect the lived realities of Canada’s students. Certain student demographic groups, including students with disabilities, mature students, and students with dependents, are disproportionately impacted by barriers to student aid funding.

“CASA has listened to students across Canada and affordability continues to be a priority for them. Student aid funding concerns have been intensified by ongoing cost of living pressures, especially for low and middle-income students. With 1 in 2 Canadian students relying on either Canada Student Grants or Loans to help fund their education each year, CASA calls on ESDC to address concerns with the program’s assessment criteria to better ensure it is fully accessible to all students.” said Nelson Chukwuma, CASA Chair. 

Need Not Apply found the following:

  • Students with children automatically lose – on average – $1,858 in Canada Student Grants once their child turns 12.
  • Parental income represents 33% of a post-secondary student’s income used to pay for post-secondary education
  • If a dependent student were to lose access to parental financial support, the student would need to work an additional 560 hours (or 11.7 hours per week) to make up for the lost income
  • 1 in 3 post-secondary students in Canada report having a disability, of which two-thirds are a mental health disability
  • Two-thirds of Canadians awaiting a mental health diagnosis wait over a year before receiving their diagnosis, 30% receive a diagnosis within 1-5 years, and a further third (31.6%) wait more than 5 years.

Anticipating continued challenges with the rising cost of education in Canada, CASA envisions a future in which more students have access to funding to support their educational experience and better enable them to succeed in their studies and beyond. CASA encourages the federal government to refine its CSFA program to ensure more opportunities for students to access financial aid in the future. Read the full Need Not Apply report at the attached file.




About CASA        

Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations is a non-partisan, not-for-profit national student organization composed of 25 student associations across the country. Through our partnership with the Quebec Student Union/Union étudiante du Québec, CASA represents 365,000 post-secondary students across Canada. 




Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

Max Greer, Communications and Creative Content Officer

Email: [email protected] 

Office: 613-236-3457

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