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. To get your PPSD, you must apply for this document on your own. You do not get it automatically. Take a look at the CIC website here at Guide 5520 - Applying for a Protected Person Status Document
  • 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 Citizens for Public Justice entitled: “Applying for Canadian Student Loans for College and University – A Guide for Refugee Students in Ontario”. This guide goes through the process of applying for OSAP, step-by-step.

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:

  • Toronto Community Housing – They have a big list of various scholarships available to individuals pursuing post-secondary education and other initiatives.
  • RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for New Canadians - Awarded to Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have immigrated to Canada on or after January 1, 1999, and who are willing to share their viewpoints on and personal experience with immigration in Canada.
  • TD Canada Trust Scholarships - Awarded to Canadian Students based on leadership in the community.
  • Canadian Merit Awards - Scholarships granted to students on the basis of character, service and leadership potential.
  • Scholarships Canada and Student Awards - Resources that will help you find scholarships and awards according to university, or your own personal profile. You need to register for these sites, but the search service is free.