Canada is home to some of the best schools and universities. Many students globally view studying in Canada as an opportunity to gain world-class education at an economical cost in comparison to countries like the United States, United Kingdom or Australia. Being part of a growing multicultural environment and the potential to apply for permanent residence upon completion of studies are also great reasons to come to Canada as an International Student. 

That said, one cannot ignore the fact that with tuition, living costs, and other fees, international education can be expensive. Therefore, having sufficient finances to support your overseas education is crucial. 

The good news is that international students requiring financial assistance have more than a few options to explore. In this article, we will dive into these options, help you better understand them, and outline some useful resources to get you started with your application for financial aid. 

First things first, estimate the cost of your education. Use the RBC Student Budget Calculator to help you figure out how much money you’ll need to get through the school year. Additionally, you can also check the government of Canada website for the proof of financial support required as part of your student permit application. Once you have a fair idea of the amount, it will be easier to narrow down potential sources to finance your Canadian post-secondary education. 

Learn the basics of finance in Canada and get essential resources as well as information you can rely on to make confident financial decisions. Take charge of your finances by downloading the International Students Finance Guide now.

Financial assistance for international students in Canada

1. Student loans

Student loans are mainly intended for post-secondary education funding. Money borrowed as a student loan has to be repaid with interest, at some point in the future – often, after completion of studies. 

In order to receive a study permit for Canada, applicants are required to show funds that cover the cost of education plus living expenses in Canada. Hence, if you’re an international student who wants to take out a student or an education loan, the ideal scenario is to borrow money from a financial institution in your home country. 

Tip: While considering options in your home country, you can also look at financial aid provided by the education department or ministry for students intending to pursue education abroad.

2. Scholarships or grants

Scholarships or grants are forms of monetary support offered by institutions, organizations, governments, or individuals to help international students finance their education. 

Key highlights of scholarships or grants:

  • Scholarships or grants are usually granted for outstanding academic or extracurricular achievements, volunteer experience, professional accomplishments, and may also be awarded by specific research areas, especially for graduate students.
  • You don’t need to repay a scholarship or grant.
  • Usually, you need to submit an application. But at times, based on certain criteria, it may be automatically offered to those who are eligible – this type of scholarship is known as an entrance scholarship. Many Canadian universities are known to offer entrance scholarships for international students, so be sure to check the website of the colleges you’re interested in.
  • The application process for each scholarship or grant may be different. At times, you may be asked to submit an essay or reference from teachers/professors or employers. 

Key resources to familiarize yourself with the financial aid landscape in Canada:


Bursaries are a form of financial assistance offered by universities and colleges for international students in Canada. They are granted on the basis of economic need considering factors such as personal and family income – this is how bursaries primarily differ from scholarships/grants. 

Key highlights of bursaries:

  • Students are usually required to submit an application, undergo a needs assessment, and may have to provide information about their income or their parents’ income to verify their financial situation. 
  • As with a scholarship or grant, you don’t need to repay a bursary.
  • Information about bursaries is usually available on the individual school or university websites.
  • Typically, you have to be registered as an international student in the school to apply for bursaries as the main intention of a bursary program is to supplement students’ primary sources of funding. 

Student lines of credit

Student lines of credit are offered by all major Canadian banks and can help you pay for expenses related to post-secondary education, like tuition or books and everyday expenses, such as food and transportation.

Key highlights of a student lines of credit:

  • You can borrow money, pay it back and then borrow again, repeatedly, up to a pre-set limit. It’s similar to the working of a credit card.
  • You only have to pay back the money you borrow. Interest is applied to just the amount that is borrowed and not on the entire amount (which is the case for loans). For instance, if you have a $10,000 CAD line of credit and you borrow $3,000 CAD, you have to repay $3,000 CAD + interest on the $3000 CAD, not on $10,000 CAD. 
  • The interest rates may be lower than the rates offered on government student loans. However, you’ll have to start paying interest as soon as you borrow money from a student line of credit, unlike a student loan where you only start paying interest once you finish your program or leave school.
  • You can start paying back the money you owe at any time, even while you’re still studying.
  • The limit for your line of credit will be determined by the bank, based on your course, the school or academic institution offering the program, living expenses, credit history, and ability to repay the money you borrow.

For more information on student lines of credit, see information shared by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Book an appointment with an RBC Advisor or call 1-866-881-6618 to speak with a credit specialist who can sit down with you one-on-one to help you learn more about a student line of credit

RBC’s phone services are available in up to 200 languages. Once you have your appointment booked, an advisor will reach out to check whether you’d like to meet via phone, video or in-branch.

Financial aid from individual educational institutions

Many Canadian universities and colleges have separate financial aid options for international students that are offered directly through their websites. You can explore the details on individual websites or contact the institution for more information on available options and the application process. 


It takes a lot of research and patience to evaluate all available options and find a source of education funding that works well for your unique situation. With access to the right resources, you will be able to fast-track your research and find relevant opportunities!


Get the most up-to-date and relevant information, resources, and tools, personalized to match your unique Canada journey – all in one place. 

The Arrive app features personalized programs, expert guidance, exclusive newcomer offers, and much more. Wherever you are in your journey, the Arrive App will help make it less stressful and more successful. Arrive is your single source for what you need to succeed in Canada.

Download the free app for iOS and Android devices.




About Arrive

Arrive is powered by RBC Ventures Inc, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. In collaboration with RBC, Arrive is dedicated to helping newcomers achieve their life, career, and financial goals in Canada. An important part of establishing your financial life in Canada is finding the right partner to invest in your financial success. RBC is the largest bank in Canada* and here to be your partner in all of your financial needs. RBC supports Arrive, and with a 150-year commitment to newcomer success in Canada, RBC goes the extra mile in support and funding to ensure that the Arrive newcomer platform is FREE to all. Working with RBC, Arrive can help you get your financial life in Canada started – right now. Learn about your banking options in Canada and be prepared. Click here to book an appointment with an advisor.

* Based on market capitalization


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.