Designation Information for Schools

See also: Designation 101: How designation benefits students.

Students can only use government student loans to attend designated programs at designated schools. Designated post-secondary schools are evaluated to be sure they meet the criteria for student assistance programs. Certain kinds of programs are never eligible for designation, but most programs ARE designated.


What is the Pan-Canadian Designation Policy Framework?

In Canada, government Student Assistance borrowers can only use these funds to attend approved schools and academic programs that meet the criteria of the Pan-Canadian Designation Policy Framework.

This policy reflects four key principles:

  1. Accountability and informed choice
  2. Consumer protection
  3. Complementing other post-secondary education policies
  4. Taxpayer protection

The Framework makes sure that all post-secondary schools across Canada meet the same designation criteria. These performance-based criteria reduce the risk of students not repaying their student loans by assessing three types of performance.

    1. School Performance: e.g., administrative compliance, student support
    2. Student Performance: e.g., completion data, employment data, withdrawal data
    3. Portfolio Performance: e.g., repayment data, default data

How to Become a Designated School

Nova Scotia Schools: The Nova Scotia Designation Policy describes the criteria that post-secondary schools and programs in Nova Scotia must meet to become and remain designated. A school cannot be designated without offering at least one program that is eligible for designation.

Schools outside Nova Scotia but inside Canada must apply to their home province’s student assistance program to be added to the Master Designation List, which is the master list of designated schools for all Canadian students.

A school outside Canada can apply to Nova Scotia to become designated when and if a Nova Scotia student wishes to attend that school.

To apply for designation, a school can complete a “Designation Package” and submit it for review to the Manager of Designation. To learn more about this process, Contact Us.

Designating / Adding New Programs:

When a school offers a new program and wants this program to be eligible for student assistance funding, the school must apply to have the new program designated. The program must meet criteria stated in Part B, Section 2 of the Nova Scotia Designation Policy, “Criteria applied to post-secondary programs at designated schools in Nova Scotia” (or Part B, Section 3, in the case of e-learning programs.)

The designation of a school does not mean that all programs offered by that school are automatically eligible for student assistance funding. Only those programs that meet the designation criteria outlined in this policy will be considered eligible.

All schools must apply to have new programs designated before student loans will be issued to students enrolled in these programs.

A school designation review can take up to 4 weeks.

A program designation review can take 2 to 3 weeks.

The Nova Scotia Electronic Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE) Portal

All designated Nova Scotia and Canadian schools are added to the Nova Scotia Electronic Confirmation of Enrollment Portal (CoE Portal).

The CoE Portal is a web-based tool designed to streamline the process of confirming full-time enrollment of students applying for Nova Scotia and Canada Student Loans. Nova Scotia students are not required to present a paper student loan certificate to have their enrollment status confirmed, as all schools in Nova Scotia and across Canada can complete this process electronically through the CoE Portal.

During the confirmation process, schools can indicate the amount that they wish to deduct for fees due from the student’s Student Assistance funding. The balance of their funding is directly deposited into the student’s bank account.

Participation on the portal is mandatory for all Nova Scotia and Canadian schools that accept students using Nova Scotia Student Assistance. Please refer to the “Portal User Manual” and FAQ for more information (Link to Portal User Manual and FAQ).

Once the school has completed and returned the Agreement to Access the Confirmation of Enrollment Portal form to the NS Student Assistance Office, authorized Super User/Users will receive usernames and passwords to login to the portal.

Portal Users

Super User:

The "Super User" school official has primary responsibility to ensure confirmation of enrollment is completed as required. They may or may not be the individual performing the confirmation of enrollment process for students on the portal. The Super User is also responsible for the security and maintenance of Users on the portal.


"Users" are individual(s) assigned responsibility to electronically confirm enrollment of students and/or input fees on behalf of the school.

User Responsibilities:

It is the responsibility of the authorized Super User/User to ensure that:

  • The Super User or User has read and understands the Electronic Confirmation of Enrollment User Manual for the web portal.
  • The person named on the Electronic Certificate is the student for whom the Electronic Certificate is intended.
  • The Student is in full-time attendance in the designated program at the school as stated on the Electronic Certificate.
  • The start date on the Electronic Certificate is the same as that on the student’s contract and/or student record.
  • The end date on the Electronic Certificate is the same as that on the student’s contract and/or student record.
  • The number of study weeks is the same as that on the student’s contract and/or student record.

If the information on the portal is incorrect for the student for any reason, the Super User or User must not confirm the student record. They must follow the steps outlined in the User Manual to decline confirmation and provide details to the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Office.

Roles and Responsibilities of Designated Schools:

Post-secondary schools play a central role in retaining students, ensuring student success and ensuring students improve their overall employability. Student success is a key element in effectively managing financial risk within student assistance programs. As a result, post-secondary schools play a critical role in any effort made by government to successfully manage this financial risk.

Administrative compliance:

All designated schools must actively review and provide confirmation of quality assurance with respect to all government-funded student assistance documents and processes under the schools’ control. Schools must also take appropriate action at the earliest opportunity to prevent overawards and misuse of the program.

The administrative compliance criteria include six areas: advertising and recruitment, completion of a student application, changes to designated schools/programs, reporting requirements, and information to student and designated signing officer(s). Please refer to the Nova Scotia Designation Policy for complete information on the administrative compliance criteria.

Repayment Risk Zones:

Schools are assigned one of three risk zones based on their students’ repayment performance as calculated by the Federal repayment rate indicator. This information is provided annually to the schools. More information about risk zones and the risk zone category status of designated schools is available on the Canada Student Loan Program website.


Repayment Risk Zones


85.2% or more of students who attend this school repay their student loans
60.0% to 85.2% repay their student loans
 Less than 60% repay their student loans


Schools in the GREEN zone are rated as ‘good’, and will be exempt from any performance improvement targets, interventions, or sanctions. However they still have the benefit of review by the Student Assistance Office. 

Schools in the YELLOW zone will be required to improve their repayment rate 3 percentage points over three one-year assessment periods (for a total of 3% over 3 years) from the time they first go into the yellow zone.

Schools who fall into the RED zone will be required to improve their performance to meet the YELLOW zone threshold by the end of three assessment periods (3 years).  Schools who fail to improve from the RED zone to the YELLOW zone will be placed under review and may be de-designated.

All designated educational institutions influence the overall financial risk of the student loan portfolio. Therefore, it is recommended that each school develop a student loan repayment strategy.