The Student Assistance Office was established in 1964. The program was established to provide need-based financial assistance to students who were unable to afford the cost of attending post-secondary school. This philosophy has remained unchanged.
The Government of Nova Scotia provides affordable loans and non-repayable grants to help Nova Scotia students pay for their studies at designated universities, community colleges or private career colleges. The Student Assistance Office also administers, on behalf of the federal government, the Canada Student Loan and Grants programs. Both provincial and federal funding is accessed through a single application, which is reviewed at the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Office.
Student loans and non-repayable grants are intended to supplement the financial resources of the student and their family or spouse. Funding amounts are based on financial need, as determined through an assessment of the information provided in the application. The educational costs used to determine financial need include: Tuition fees, mandatory school fees, books and supplies, and basic living expenses (for students living away from home).
Student Assistance has several program features designed to help students with permanent disabilities access post-secondary education. Student Assistance and Post-Secondary Accessibility Services (Higher Education division) also work together to provide grants, services and equipment to eligible students.
The borrowing and repayment terms of government student loans are designed to help students who are at the beginning of their new career. Student Assistance also offers a suite of debt management tools to help students who have difficulty repaying their loans after leaving school.