Advanced Education, Skills and Labour

Calculating Your Need (for 2016-17 academic year)

How Assessed Need is Calculated

Your eligibility to receive assistance will be determined by assessing your financial need using the following formula:

Allowable Costs - Available Resources = Assessed Need

This is done by adding the costs of your education and living expenses while in school, and then subtracting any money determined to be available to you. The result is your assessed need.

If the above calculation results in a positive need, you may be eligible for funding. If the result is negative, you are considered to have enough financial resources to cover the cost of going to school and you would not be eligible for funding.

Note: In some situations, student aid will not be enough to cover the full cost of your schooling as there are maximum levels of assistance available. If this is the case, you may need to find additional sources of funding.

Funding breakdown:

  • Provincial - 40% of your assessed need to a maximum of $140/week of study
  • Federal - 60% of your assessed need to a maximum of $210 in loans/week of study (plus additional grants, if eligible)

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The Process

A standardized process is used to assess the application to calculate the amount of assistance you are eligible to receive.

Step 1: Determine Your Student Category

Student category determines living costs:

  • single dependant student living at home;
  • single dependant student living away from home;
  • single independent student living at home;
  • single independent student living away from home;
  • married or common-law student; and
  • single parent.

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Step 2: Calculate Allowable Costs

Living Costs

A standard weekly living allowance is determined, based on your student category.

Student Category Living Allowance/week
Single student living at home $102
Single student living away from home $234
Single parent $312
Married or common-law student $455
Each Dependant $110

Education Costs

A combination of the following:

  • actual tuition and required fees;
  • up to $500 per semester for books and supplies; and
  • $500 per academic year for computer-related costs.

Other Costs Considered

  • local transportation;
  • return transportation from your permanent address; and
  • childcare (if applicable).

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Step 3: Calculate Available Resources

Your financial resources (including your parents or spouse, if applicable) will be used to calculate the amount you are expected to contribute toward your education. These include earned income, Employment Insurance benefits, training allowances, pension benefits and scholarships.

  • Pre-study period: from your net income, a moderate standard of living is deducted. 80% of the remaining amount is considered a resource.

  • Study Period: from your gross income, there is a $100 per week exemption. All remaining net income is considered a resource.

  • Scholarships and Bursaries: any amount that exceeds $1,800 per academic year from the total amount is considered a resource.

  • Training Allowance: 100% of income received because you are a student (i.e., NL Skills Development) is considered a resource.

  • Parental Contribution (dependent students only): based on family income after taxes and family size. If your parents have other dependant children enrolled in post-secondary, their contribution will be divided by the number of children. To get an estimate, try the Parental Contribution Calculator opens in new window.

    Note: Information from one parent may be accepted, with a letter from the custodial parent explanation why the second parent's information is not available. This explanation must demonstrate that there is no relationship between the student and the absent parent.

  • Scholarship Trust Fund: the amount withdrawn for the academic year from scholarship trust fund or Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

    Note: For dependent students, the greater of the parental contribution or the annual amount from trust fund is considered a resource.

  • Spousal Income (married or living common-law students only): income from the pre-study period and study period. From the net income, a moderate standard of living is allowed. Of the remaining amount, 80% from pre-study and 70% from study period is considered a contribution toward the cost of your education.

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Step 4: Determine Assessed Need

Allowable Costs - Available Resources = Assessed Need

Once the costs of attending post-secondary studies have been determined, the financial resources available will be subtracted from those costs. This results in an assessed need.

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Example of Calculating Financial Assistance for the 2016/17 academic year

Here is a detailed example of how financial assistance is calculated for the 2016-17 academic year, including a breakdown of possible costs and resources.

View example

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Once assessed, you will receive a Notice of Assessment detailing the amount, if any, of student financial assistance you are eligible to receive. If your application is reassessed, you will receive a new Notice of Assessment - Revised. The Notice of Assessment will outline the breakdown of federal and provincial funding, and the amounts in loans and/or grants.

Your assessment details are also available at by logging into your account.

Note: If you are a first time applicant or you had a break in studies of more than two years, you will require a Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) if you are eligible for an amount of funding. This will be sent to the address on your application.

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If your circumstances—such as your course load or financial situation—change after your application is processed, your file will be reassessed, resulting in one of three outcomes:

  1. Your assessed need will increase, which may entitle you to additional assistance;
  2. Your assessed need will decrease below the level of assistance you were already given, leaving you in an "over-award" situation; or
  3. Your assessed need will remain the same.

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An over-award means you have received funds for which you are not eligible.

Often, due to changes in students circumstances, a reassessment occurs and it is determined that more funds were issued than allowable under Student Aid guidelines.

Example: Your fall semester application was re-assessed because of a change in income. Through the re-assessment it was determined you were not eligible for $500 of the total amount of funding you received. When your funding is disbursed the following winter semester, it will be reduced by $500.

When over-awards are applied to a student’s file, they are recovered as follows:

Over-award Recovery
Canada Student Loans
  • the amount of the over-award will be deducted from future loans. If you enter repayment, the over-award will be recovered according to your repayment plan.
Canada Student Grants
  • withdraw from studies or change from full-time to part-time within the first 30 days of classes results in all or part your Canada Student Grant for that period being converted into a loan.* You can repay the over-award or it will be added to your outstanding loan principal when you enter repayment.
  • reassessment of your application determines that you provided inaccurate information rendering you ineligible for a Canada Student Loan for full-time or part-time studies, all or part of the Canada Student Grant that was issued will be converted into a loan. *

  • * as outlined in the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement (MSFAA) and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Regulations (CSFAR)
NL Student Grants
  • the amount of your over-award will be deducted from any future grant entitlements.
  • if you enter repayment, any outstanding over-award will automatically be converted to an interest-free NL Student Loan.
NL Student Loans
  • the amount of the over-award will be deducted from future loans. If you enter repayment, the over-award will be recovered according to your repayment plan.

Note: You have the right to appeal over-awards placed on your file by providing documented evidence that your withdrawal from studies or your change from full- to part-time studies was as a result of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances beyond your control, the decision to convert the grant into a loan may be reconsidered.

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