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Applying for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit? Here’s what you need to know

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Canadian students and recent graduates who have lost income or summer jobs as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic can apply to receive funding from an emergency aid program starting Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday – May 13, 2020

Canadian post-secondary students and recent graduates who have lost income or summer jobs as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic can apply to receive funding from an emergency aid program starting Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) as part of a $9-billion aid package for struggling students on April 22.

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Students who aren’t eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to receive $1,250 per month between May and August through the student aid program. Those who have dependents or disabilities will be eligible for $2,000 per month.

The federal student aid package also includes wage subsidies for employers with Canada Summer Jobs, enhanced and extended research grants and increased weekly student loan payments.

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A web page for the student benefit went live on the federal government’s website on Wednesday.

Here’s a break-down of what applicants need to know.

Who can apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit?

To apply for the CESB, you have to be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, registered under the Indian Act or a person deemed by federal immigration officials as “a person in need of protection.”

The benefit is open to students currently enrolled in a post-secondary education program “that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate” and to those who completed their post-secondary studies in December 2019 or afterward.

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Students who have completed or expect to complete high school in 2020 — and who have applied for a post-secondary program that will start before Feb. 1, 2021 — can also apply for the CESB.

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Eligible students can be studying here in Canada or abroad, according to the government.

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To qualify, applicants also have to attest that they’re either unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or they’re looking for work and can’t find a job due to the crisis, or their income is $1,000 or less — before taxes — during the benefit period for which they’re applying.

Anyone who has already applied for or received funding through the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program or the CERB is not eligible for the student benefit, the government says.

The government says the CRA will verify applicants’ eligibility down the road. Anyone who received funding they weren’t eligible for will have to repay the money.

When can students begin applying?

Applications for the CESB open Friday, May 15 at 6 a.m. ET — but if you haven’t ever filed a Canadian tax return, you have to register with the CRA ahead of applying.

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In a news conference on Wednesday, Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said the government web page will direct applicants to apply on a specific day depending on their birth month.

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Applicants must first apply for the four-week period between May 10 to June 6 and they’ll have to re-apply for each of the remaining four-week periods until the end of August.

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High school students who graduated before May 10, 2020 can apply for all four periods of the CESB. Students graduating between May 10 and June 6 can apply for three benefit periods, while those graduating between June 7 and Dec. 31 can apply for the final two periods.

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The deadline for all CESB applications is Sept. 30, 2020.

How much money can eligible students gets and when will they receive payment?

Depending on their eligibility, qualifying applicants will receive either $1,250 or $2,000 per four-week period for which they’re approved.

“This money will not have to be paid back,” Qualtrough said Wednesday.

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Students who qualify for funding can expect to receive their payment in three to five business days after their application has been approved, according to the minister.

Can students earn any income while receiving the CESB?

Yes. Similar to those who receive the CERB, students are still permitted to earn up to $1,000 (before taxes) during the four-week period for which they’re applying for government aid.

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The federal government expects the CESB to help approximately one million part and full-time students who can’t find work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Qualtrough.

— With files from the Canadian Press