Many Indigenous students face barriers in getting a post-secondary education. The biggest factor, of course, is cost. College and university can be expensive, especially if you live in a remote community — so Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) offers the Post-Secondary Student Suport Program (PSSSP) to help.
The funding program is part of the government's commitment to ensuring that Indigenous students "have the same opportunities for success" as other Canadians. The goal is to put more decision-making power around education into the hands of First Nations people.
Who can apply for this funding?
Status First Nations students who maintain decent grades while attending an eligible college or university are encouraged to apply.
(What's "status" mean? "Status" is a term used for people who are legally registered under the Indian Act. Yes, that's a real thing. Not all First Nations people have status. If you don't have status, and think you should, you can apply directly to your First Nation to get it.)
Further, some students in the Northwest Territories or Quebec may not be eligible, depending on other support they may receive. Learn more about exclusions for some NWT and QC students here.
I don't have "status." Can I still apply?
Unfortunately, the PSSSP is open only to status First Nations students. Click to learn more about status and how to get it.
How do I apply?
To apply for funding, you must contact your local band office or the regional ISC office near you.
Be aware that you need to apply every year you wish to receive funding — applications are good for only a single calendar year, so you'll need to re-apply if you want to continue receiving funds.
Funds for the program are provided directly to First Nations, who are in turn responsible for allocating money to specific projects — which could include getting you a good education.
What's the deadline?
There's no general, overall deadline for all funding. You'll have to get in touch with your local band office, or reach out to a regional ISC office to get the specific details.
How much funding is available?
A full-time student is eligible for a maximum of $53,000 per year — not bad!
Masters or doctoral students, pursuing an advanced qualification, may be eligible for even more, "on an extraordinary and justified basis" — meaning you'll have to make a pretty good case as to why you need the extra funding, which can reach a maximum of $90,000 per year.
Not every student will receive this much, though. There is no minimum entitlement for students — the strength of your application will determine the extent of your funding.
What can I use the funding for?
You can use funding received through PSSSP for anything related to your program of study. Generally, this means tuition, materials (like books or lab supplies), travel costs, and even living expenses. Your specific First Nation may have other recommendations or restrictions, so be sure to ask.
I'm not eligible for PSSSP funding. What should I do?
PSSSP is just one of many avenues to explore. You may want to check out Indspire, an organization dedicated to providing scholarships to FNMI students. You can also try the ScholarshipsCanada page on scholarships for Indigenous students. The government even offers search tool for Indigenous bursaries.
Best of luck funding the next steps in your education!
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