Dear Mentor:

From the US, can I get aid for college in Canada?

I'm a first year university student in the US and a US citizen. I'm currently receiving California grants to pay for my first year of college. However, I want to go to college in Canada and was wondering what kind of funds can I get to pay for my time there.

California to Canada, Alhambra, California, USA

Dear California to Canada:

Your financial aid advisor at the prospective college or university in Canada is the best source of information for financial assistance. Canadian schools are quite adept at dealing with students from the US; they know the financial aid opportunities for American students. We can offer some general guidance here.

Financial aid programs are available for higher studies abroad for US citizens and eligible non-citizens (the legal US residents or green card holders, generally speaking). Your personal eligibility, however, is not the issue. Whether you get the aid depends on whether your prospective school is eligible for the financial aid program.

Any college or university, anywhere in the world, can apply to the US Department of Education for eligibility, meet the US government requirements, and obtain approval from the US government. Upon approval, the school is issued what is called the Federal School Code. Since many Americans study in Canadian schools, many Canadian schools have made the effort to obtain the US Federal School Code, making it possible for American students to obtain financial assistance through US government programs for studies in Canada. For example, McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada have Federal School Codes G06677 and G08365, respectively.

The US Federal Government Department of Education website is quite helpful. In particular, you would want to visit the Financial Aid Program Information. You can see if your prospective school qualifies through the Search for the Federal School Code for the school. If the code exists, the school is eligible.

You can also call the US Department of Education at 1-800/4-FED-AID (1-800/433-3243) with your questions. We have found the representatives to be quite knowledgeable and helpful.

We are confident that you would find your Canadian experience enriching. Canada is a beautiful country, though rather cold for a Californian, and Canadians are wonderful people. The quality of education in Canada is quite good.

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