BACKGROUNDER: The Canada Emergency Student Benefit
The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides emergency financial relief to students and recent graduates who are unable to work, or unable to find work, due to reasons related to COVID-19. It is also available for those who are working but not making more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying.
Students, including those studying abroad, are eligible for the CESB if they are:
- a Canadian citizen, including dual citizens;
- a registered Indian under the Indian Act;
- a permanent resident; or
- a protected person.
There are no age restrictions for who is eligible for the CESB.
When applying, students must attest that for COVID-19 related reasons, they are:
- unable to work; or
- seeking work but are unable to find it; or
- working but unable to make more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they are applying.
For those seeking work but are unable to find it, they must continue to actively be looking for a job to be eligible to receive the CESB. If the individual still cannot find work due to COVID-19, or cannot earn more than $1,000, they can re-apply for each CESB eligibility period that you are eligible for. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may ask you to provide information later to verify that you have been looking for work during the eligibility period(s) that you have applied for.
In addition, students are not eligible for CESB if they are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance benefits for the same four-week period as their current application.
Students working full-time or part-time can earn up to $1,000 (before taxes) during the four-week period for which they are applying for CESB. The $1,000 includes:
- employment/self-employment income;
- taxable benefits and allowances provided by an employer;
- tips a student may earn while working;
- non-eligible dividends;
- honoraria (e.g., nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and
- royalties (e.g., paid to artists).
The $1,000 limit does not include:
- pensions, student grants and loans, scholarships, bursaries, graduate stipends
- family, common-law, and spousal income
- graduate stipends and bursaries
- educational funding for indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP)
If a recipient is later deemed to be ineligible—for example, because they earned more than $1,000 before taxes during the four-week period for which they received the benefit—they would need to repay the CESB through their CRA My Account.
Three categories of students are eligible for the CESB:
1. Students enrolled in a post-secondary education program
To be considered a post-secondary program for the purpose of the CESB, a program must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Taken at post-secondary level (means education at a university or college level, including education of a technical or vocational nature and vocational training at the secondary level in Quebec);
- A series of courses that last at least 12 weeks and lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate; and
- At a listed institution (from the Government of Canada’s Master List of Designated Educational Institutions or the Master List of Certified Educational Institutions, or Quebec’s Répertoire des Établissements d’enseignement et des Programmes d’études; or an Indigenous Institution recognized by a province or territory).
Failure to meet any of the three criteria listed above would make a person ineligible. The CESB will be available to both part-time and full-time post-secondary students, as well as summer students.
Canadians in apprenticeship programs who meet the eligibility criteria (currently enrolled in a PSE program) would also qualify for the CESB so long as they do not qualify for, or are in receipt of, the CERB, and do not earn more than $1,000 (before taxes) per month.
2. Students who have graduated from or left their post-secondary studies no earlier than December 2019
3. Students who have completed, or will complete, high school in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary educational program that begins before February 1, 2021
- High school students who complete, or expect to complete their studies between June 7 and December 31, 2020, and have applied for post-secondary studies and are intending to pursue it, are eligible to receive two months of the CESB (July and August).
- Those who complete high school before June 7, 2020 are eligible to apply for the period that starts after their graduation. For example, if a student graduates on May 30, 2020, they can apply for three periods of the CESB (June to August). This also applies to students receiving their high school equivalency.
- High school students who have left their studies without graduating are not eligible. Only high school students who graduate in 2020 and who have applied to a post-secondary educational program beginning before February 1st, 2021 are eligible to apply.
- Students enrolled in CEGEP, and students who graduated from their CEGEP program no earlier than December 2019, can also apply for the CESB.
International students, temporary workers who have a SIN beginning with “9”, and non-resident students with international tax numbers are not eligible for the CESB.
Applicants will be required to attest to meeting the eligibility criteria and that the information they are providing is accurate. They do not have to provide documents as part of their CESB application. However, students may be asked to produce documents in the future to support their attestation. They should keep records to support their attestation at a future date.
Post-secondary students and those who recently left or graduated from a post-secondary program should have documents showing that:
- they were attending classes or examinations in a post-secondary program anytime between December 2019 and August 31, 2020 (e.g., transcript, tuition receipt); or
- they completed or graduated from a post-secondary program in December 2019 or later.
New post-secondary students with classes starting on or before February 1, 2021, who were not enrolled in high school in 2020, should have documents showing that:
- their application for admission into a post-secondary program was accepted before the four-week CESB period for which they applied.
Furthermore, in future, if requested, they must provide evidence of attending a post-secondary program before February 1, 2021.
Students who completed high school (or equivalency) in 2020 and claimed CESB for May or June 2020 should have documents showing that, prior to the four-week CESB period for which they applied:
- they completed all requirements for high school graduation (that is, they must have finished their classes and their grades must have been finalized); and
- they applied for admission into a post-secondary program that would start before February 1 2021. Furthermore, in future, if requested, they must provide evidence of attending a post-secondary program before February 1 2021.
Students who completed high school (or equivalency) in 2020, and claimed CESB only for July and August should have documents showing that, prior to the four-week CESB period for which they applied:
- they applied for admission into a post-secondary program that would start before February 1 2021.
Furthermore, in future, if requested, they must provide evidence that they completed all requirements for high school graduation in 2020, and attended a post-secondary program before February 1 2021.
Eligible students can receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependents or a disability for a maximum of $2,000 per month. Students are only eligible to receive one top-up of $750 per month.
A student with a disability must attest to having an impairment, such as a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation—whether permanent or episodic in nature, or evident or not—that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.
A student with a dependent must attest that they are supporting a dependent to receive the top-up amount. A student with a dependent is someone who has at least one child (including an adopted child, a stepchild, or a foster child) under the age of 12, or a person with disability who is wholly dependent on them or their spouse/common-law partner.
Students will receive a T4A that includes the CESB they received to use for filing their 2020 income tax returns.
Students and recent graduates can apply for the CESB through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Account, and will need a Social Insurance Number to apply. Eligible Canadians are encouraged to choose the direct deposit payment option and ensure their contact information is up-to-date prior to applying to ensure a smooth and timely receipt of funds.
Eligible students must reapply for the CESB for each four-week period and must meet the eligibility criteria each time.
Since individuals can only receive this benefit during a four-week period, students cannot receive the CESB if they are receiving the CERB or EI for any part of the same four-week period.
CESB is available for four months from May 2020 to August 2020 but students will be able to retroactively apply for this benefit until September 30, 2020.
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