Student-loan confusion: What to expect when applying for financial assistance

By in Opinions

With the term wrapping up, it’s never too early to start thinking about financing for the next year. If you have to apply for a student loan and you are not sure what to expect from the process, the Sheaf has your back.

Applying for student loans is fairly easy, but the process differs for Saskatchewan residents versus out-of-province students. For Saskatchewan students, you can access the student-loan-application form at the Government of Saskatchewan website. The process is fairly straightforward, and submitting your form online is the easiest way to go about it. You can also print it and mail it in if you’re old-fashioned like that.

For students from outside of Saskatchewan, the process is similar — all you have to do is go to your home province’s government website for the form that fits your circumstances.

If you get your application in by August, then you should get your assessment with lots of time to spare before the new semester starts. I have received student loans for four years, and the money has never been late — however, this can happen if the form is submitted too late in the summer.

Once you hand everything in, the rest of the process is simple. You will receive a letter or an email that outlines the amount you qualify for as well as instructions on any further steps that you may need to take. Your tuition should be sent straight to your university, so you don’t have to worry about transferring money around.

The province of Saskatchewan also has grants available, such as the Saskatchewan Student Grant for Full-Time Students, which you might be eligible for. Unlike loans, these financial aids do not have to be paid back. A downside is that they come in one big chunk at the beginning of the semester, so when the money is first deposited you will feel like a millionaire, but if you’re not careful, it won’t be long until you’re just as broke as you were before the deposit.

There is always the chance that your application will not be accepted. This is common for students who are still living with their parents, have just moved away from home or have recently graduated from high school. In my first year of university, I was denied a student loan because I still lived at home. I was lucky enough that my parents were willing to pay for my tuition, but I know that some students may not have this option.

It can be disheartening if you are denied a student loan and have no way to pay for school, but there are other options available. I know students who have received a line of credit from their banks in these situations. I also know students who took a year off school and saved up money to pay for their tuition.

Lastly, you can always contest your student-loan assessment. They will reassess it, and that may work out in your favour. Plus, if you are denied a student loan one year, you can always apply again the next year — they are likely to reassess, especially if your situation has changed.

Even if only temporarily, a student loan takes a lot of the stress out of going to school. The downside is the looming debt waiting for you when you graduate — but let’s not think about that just yet.

Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer

Graphic: Jina Bae