Student Assistance Office

The Student Assistance Office provides an opportunity for all academically qualified Nova Scotians to have equity of access to quality post-secondary education and training.  The program provides needs-based assistance to students who would be unable to attend post-secondary study because their family resources were not sufficient to cover their educational costs.

The Student Assistance Office also administers, on behalf of the federal government, the Canada Student Loans and Grants programs. 

As a result of a $12.5M investment in 2011 and a further $5.5M investment in 2012 to the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program, students have increased and improved assistance available to them to support their post-secondary education.  This assistance is in the form of increased non-repayable upfront grants and loans, increased allowance, increased in-study earnings exemption and improved electronic service. As well, the first Debt Cap program was initiated in 2011-12.  Qualifying students for the program will have their debt capped at $28,560 per student.  This program benefits students completing an undergraduate, non-professional degree program. 

Students’ financial need and resources are individually assessed.  Need is determined by taking allowable costs (tuition, books and supplies, living expenses) and subtracting resources (pre-study earnings, RESPs, investments and trusts and parental contributions).  Assistance cannot be greater than the maximum assistance available. 

As well, Student Assistance offers a suite of debt management tools to help students who have trouble repaying their loans after leaving school.


  • In the past two years, new government investment means students now have more funding while in-study and lower debt. The Debt Cap program has helped to significantly reduce debt at graduation for many Nova Scotia university students.
  • About 20,000 students apply for assistance every year, with about 80 per cent of applicants planning to study in Nova Scotia.
  • In 2011, students who received Student Assistance (federal and provincial loans and non-repayable grants) received an average amount of $10,224.
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