Manitoba Student Aid

Assessing – How Financial Need is Assessed

It is possible that your educational and living costs may be higher than the maximum assistance available through MSA. As a result, you may need to look for other sources of money to help fund your education.

Need is determined according to program criteria and policies. To calculate the assistance you will receive, use the following formula:


Allowable Costs

Costs allowed are direct educational costs which include tuition, compulsory fees, books and supplies, and living costs according to allowance levels established by the Canada Student Loans Program. Costs for repayment of consumer debts are not allowed when deciding your need. The following are the amounts allowed to cover living costs in the determination of need:

Allowable Costs
Manitoba’s Living Allowance Rates Amount per Month
Single Student living away from home $ 1,093
Single student living at home $ 504
Single Parent (not including dependent costs) $ 1,286
Married/common-law student and spouse (not including dependent costs) $ 2,036
Dependants (amount allowed for each dependant) $ 589


Students are allowed an income exemption of $100 per week. Additional income is assessed at 100%. An $1,800 exemption is allowed on merit-based scholarships per loan year. Contact Student Aid for more information on exemptions allowed in the assessment of need.

Expected Contributions

You and your spouse or parents (if applicable) are expected to contribute towards your educational costs. Both income (for yourself, spouse and/or parents) and assets (for you and your spouse) are included in the assessment of need.

  • Income – Can include employment earnings, scholarships, Employment Insurance, etc.
  • Assets – Can include monies in bank accounts, bonds, and investment certificates, etc.
    • RRSPs are considered, but there are some exemptions.

Note: Students may make withdrawals on RRSPs without paying tax if used for educational purposes. Contact your banking or financial institution for further details. If cashed, the RRSP proceeds will be used as an asset in your assessment of need. The maximum RRSP withdrawal without penalty is $10,000. For further details, please check with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Pre-study Period Contribution

You are expected to make a "pre-study period" contribution by earning and saving money for a time period before your studies start (up to four months). Your pre-study contribution is based on the amount of income you earned, less taxes and a living allowance.

Expected Parental Contributions

Part of the application form deals with parental contributions. If you are a "dependent" student, your parents are expected to make a contribution toward the cost of your education. This year the amount of contribution expected from parents has been reduced, particularly for middle-income families.

Am I Dependent or Independent?

In accordance with Canada Student Loan policy, your parents are expected to contribute towards your educational costs if you are considered to be a single dependent student. Generally, you are considered to be a single dependent student unless:

  • you are married or were living common-law for 12 months at the beginning of your study period
  • you were previously married or living common-law
  • you are widowed, divorced or separated, or a single parent with dependent children living with you
  • you were out of high school for a minimum of four years prior to the start date of the study period
  • you were a member of the labour force for at least 12 months in a row on two or more occasions and were not a full-time student during that time
  • your parents are both deceased and you have no legal guardian
  • you are a permanent ward of a Child and Family Services agency

To get an idea of what your parents' weekly contribution might be, follow these steps below.

Step 1. Determine your family size

Step 2. Determine your parents' combined annual income (Take combined income and subtract income taxes paid and EI and CPP contributions.)

Step 3. Subtract your cost of living (Chart 1) from the amount at Step 2. This is your parents' discretionary income.

Step 4. See Chart 2 to determine your parents' weekly expected contribution.

Step 5. Multiply the result by the number of weeks in your program of study. This result is your parents' expected contribution.

Chart 1 – Manitoba Moderate Standard of Living Rates
Family Size 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Rates $41,179 $51,573 $58,946 $64,669 $69,346 $73,298 $76,720 $79,740


Chart 2 – Sample Discretionary Income Table
Annual Discretionary Income Weekly Contribution
$ 500 - 1,000 $3
$2,500 - 3,000 $9
$3,500 - 4,000 $12
$6,500 - 7,000 $20
$7,500 - 8,000 $24
$10,500 - 11,000 $36
$12,500 - 13 000 $43
$13,500 - 14,000 $47
$14,500 - 15,000 $55
$16,500 - 17,000 $70

Example: Assume a family of 5 with 1 post-secondary student attending a typical 34-week program

Step 1: Family size = 5

Step 2: Parents' total gross income = $91,512. Combined parents' income after taxes, EI and CPP = $71,469

Step 3: Combined income minus a moderate standard of living for your family size is $71,469 - $64,669 = $6,800. This is your parents' discretionary income.

Step 4: See Chart 2 and determine the weekly contribution amount for the discretionary income in Step 3. This weekly cost is $20 per week.

Step 5: Multiply this amount by the number of weeks in your program = $20 x 34 = $680

Note: If there is more than one dependent student taking post-secondary classes in the study period, divide the parental contribution by the number of dependent students.

In this example, the parents are expected to contribute $680 for this year's study.

Payment of Funds

How Funds are Paid

Once your application is processed, a Notice of Assistance Letter will be mailed to you. It will show the amount and type of your awards, when and where they will be available, how your awards were calculated, reasons for any increases or decreases to your awards and reasons why you may be ineligible for assistance.

When Funds are Paid

Important Note: If documentation has been requested on the Notice of Assistance letter or under separate cover, and has not been provided within the time frames specified, your assistance will be delayed.

  • Canada and Manitoba Student Loans will be issued in two disbursements (installments). The Canada Student Loan is issued at the beginning of your study period and Manitoba Student Loan after the mid-point of your program. See the CanLearn website for further details about Canada Student Loans.
  • Canada Student Grants for Persons with Dependants will be disbursed as indicated on the Notice of Assistance. This award is payable in two disbursements, 50% at the start and 50% at the midpoint of your program studies.
  • Prince of Wales/Princess Anne awards will be issued in one disbursement at the midpoint of your program of studies.
  • Canada Student Grants for Part-time Students will be issued in one disbursement at the start of your study period.
  • Canada Student Grants for Persons with Permanent Disabilities will be issued in two disbursements, 50% at the start and 50% at the midpoint of your program of studies.