Can I apply for OSAP as a refugee?

Convention refugee students and all protected persons in Canada are eligible to apply for Canadian student loans.

Who is eligible for government student loans?

One of the main sources of post-secondary financial assistance is OSAP – the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

Protected persons and refugees are those who have been legally recognized by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and who have a Letter of Determination from the IRB or from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

This law does not extend to refugee claimants – individuals who are still in the process of having their refugee status determined by the IRB or CIC. If you are a refugee claimant, you should refer to the scholarships listed below and also visit the financial aid office of your institution. An advisor from this office can help direct you to different funding options, such as scholarships and bursaries within the institution which you may be eligible for.

Am I eligible?

Yes! If you are a ‘protected person’ or a convention refugee, you are eligible to apply for OSAP. However, there are certain documents which you must have before applying.

These are:

  • Protected Person Status Document (PPSD): this document is different from your Letter of Determination which you do receive once your status has been determined issued prior to January 1, 2013. A decision letter (“Notice of Decision”) from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) is also a valid form of identification. Take a look at IRCC website.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN): you must also apply for this on your own. Once you have applied, you will be given a temporary SIN which begins with a 9. Once you have become a permanent resident, you can apply for your permanent SIN. Visit the Service Canada website.

Also, take time to read through this helpful guide from the Government of Ontario: 2019-20 OSAP Application for Full-Time Students.

For further information on eligibility and specific details about OSAP, check out these related articles: “What is OSAP?” and “How do I apply for OSAP?”

What other financial assistance am I eligible for?

Some organizations have specific scholarships for protected persons and refugees, such as:

  • Scadding Court Community Centre - Scadding Court Community Centre and Toronto Community Housing has a scholarship with eligibility open to: Canadian citizens, permanent residents, convention refugees and refugee claimants, 25 years or younger.
  • For Youth Initiative - The FYI Scholarship Program has 2 scholarships available to youth to pursue post-secondary education. Check out their website to see if you are eligible. Some scholarships have geographical requirements which means you can only apply if you live in a certain area of the city.

It’s advisable to make an appointment with your settlement/school counsellor to discuss other options for financial assistance, as there are charities, foundations and private companies who give out scholarships for youth to pursue their post-secondary education. However, be sure to read their eligibility requirements carefully – some of them are specifically for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Here are some examples: