Here are some frequently asked questions about postsecondary funding for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
How do I find out if I am eligible for funding?
The funding support available to First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners through their communities varies.
If you are a Status First Nations student, you can access funding through your community band council’s education department and the Postsecondary Student Support Program (PSSP). Eligible students will have to complete an application that can vary among communities, so be sure to check in with your community’s education officer to make sure you have the correct application.
Depending on your community’s size and priorities, not all eligible students may receive funding. If you do receive funding, the amount may not cover all costs of university, so be prepared to apply for scholarships, bursaries and other financial aid.
Métis students are not eligible for First Nations community-based funding supports. However, you may be eligible for the Métis Nation of Ontario’s scholarship and bursary program; check out your eligibility.
Inuit students who have been or who are residents of the Northwest Territories (NWT) or Nunavut for more than 12 months can apply for funding through NWT Student Financial Assistance (NWTSFA) or Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students (FANS). If you are Ontario-based, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation offer financial assistance and support on behalf of the Inuit community in Ontario.
When should I apply for funding?
Sooner is always better, but the deadline for your funding application can vary among communities. A common deadline with many First Nations’ band councils for applications for fall-term admission is mid-May to June. Check in with your community’s education officer to make sure you know the right deadline.
What are the most important questions I should ask my education officer before I begin university?
Here is a list of questions that may be useful:
- What is the minimum amount of courses or credits I need to keep my funding?
- Is there funding available to help offset the costs of my moving to another city to go to university?
- What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) I must maintain to continue to receive funding?
- What happens if I fail or withdraw from a class?
- Do you fund for spring/summer terms?
- How and when will I receive my living allowances?
- Do I need to apply for funding each semester or just once each academic year?
- Do you make course load exceptions for students with disabilities?
- Is there any funding available that will help cover the costs of travel home for holidays or family emergencies?
- Can I receive additional funding for adaptive technology, a computer or travel abroad opportunities?
Do I need to be living or have lived on my reserve to be eligible for band funding?
It depends on the rules set out by the band council. Be sure to ask the postsecondary funding coordinator if you are eligible to receive funding. If you have not lived on a reserve, it is important to explain or establish your connection to your community in your application to the band council.
I have priority funding. What does that mean?
Depending on your community funding, there may be a priority arrangement in place to determine who will receive funding first. Generally, priority is given in this order:
- Continuing students – students who are coming directly out of secondary school, or are currently enrolled in postsecondary studies.
- Wait-listed students – students who have previously applied for funding, but were not funded due to lack of funds.
- Returning students – students who had previously received funding and then interrupted their study, for more than one academic term, and are now continuing their studies.
- New students – students who are applying for a postsecondary program who have never received funding.
What portion of tuition will be paid by the community?
When you receive a sponsorship letter from your education officer, it will confirm the maximum amount of tuition that will be covered for the term. These amounts are usually enough to cover the cost of tuition and other student fees, but depending on your program and its associated costs, the funding you receive may not cover everything. It’s important that you start looking into scholarships, bursaries and other forms of financial aid sooner rather than later.