Canada Student Loan and Canada Apprentice Loan debt collection
We're here to help!
As we fully resume our collections activities, we understand that for many, these are still challenging times. If you receive a phone call or letter indicating that you owe money and can’t pay your balance in full, give us a call. We’re here to help, and can work together on a payment arrangement that works for your situation.
Paying your debt all at once, and in full, helps you avoid interest and other legal and financial consequences. However, if you cannot pay the full amount now, there are options for you. Ignoring your debt does not make it go away. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will work with you to resolve your debt.
The CRA collects defaulted Canada Student Loans (CSL) and Canada Apprentice Loans (CAL) on behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
You can pay your debt online, at your financial institution or by mail. The CRA will apply your payment toward your oldest ESDC debt unless you request otherwise.
- The easiest way to pay is through your online banking service. CRA’s “My Payment” is not available to pay an ESDC debt.
- Select "Employment and Social Development Canada" as the payee if available on your financial institution’s website. Your account number is on your statement of account.
- Make your cheque or money order payable to "Receiver General for Canada".
- Write your client ID number on the front of your cheque or money order.
- Include your remittance slip with your payment – do not staple.
- Mail your payment to the payment office indicated on the back of your statement of account.
- Do not send cash by mail.
If you cannot pay your loan in full, or make the minimum monthly payment on your statement of account, the CRA may agree to a reduced regular payment. This allows you to make payments over time until you have paid the entire debt, including interest. Your debt will gain interest until you pay the full balance.
A payment arrangement is an agreement between you and the CRA to pay your debt over a certain period. The CRA will consider a payment arrangement when you have shown that you have tried to pay your debt in full by either reducing your expenses or borrowing funds. After reviewing your financial details, the CRA will work with you to determine the amount and length of the payment arrangement.
The Income and expense worksheet is an optional budget tool to help you determine what you can afford to pay on a regular basis.
Contact the CRA to set up your payment arrangement.
You must pay as agreed, continue to file all returns on time, and stay up to date with your tax obligations. Payment arrangements may be subject to periodic reviews.
Even if you have a payment arrangement and are making payments, the CRA is authorized to take amounts from any benefits or credits you receive when you have a debt.
If your situation changes and you cannot continue with your payment arrangement, you must contact the CRA. If you do not, the CRA may proceed with legal actions to collect the balance of your debt. Go to Consequences of not paying for more information.
If you are unable to make a payment or payment arrangement, go to Unable to pay.
Unable to pay
If you cannot pay in full, or make the minimum monthly payment on your statement of account, contact the CRA.
If you do not call or make a payment arrangement, the CRA may take legal action to collect the balance. Go to Consequences of not paying for more information.
Financial hardship provisions
You may apply for help under the financial hardship provisions if your debt repayment makes it difficult for you to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and utilities.
For more information, contact the CRA.
Severe Permanent Disability Benefit
If you are permanently disabled you may qualify for the Severe Permanent Disability Benefit. You may have your student loans cancelled if your disability prevents you from studying and working for the rest of your life.
Enrolment is not automatic. Contact the CRA for information on the Severe permanent disability benefit.
Repayment Assistance Plan
If you have a Canada Student Loan with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), you may apply for repayment help with their Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP).
If you default on your student loan, the federal portion will be transferred and collected by the CRA, and the RAP will no longer be available.
You can apply to have your loans returned to the ESDC through the rehabilitation program so that you may apply for a RAP.
If you have a judgement on your account, you will not be eligible for Canada Student Loan rehabilitation. Contact the National Student Loans Service Centre to discuss your situation.
Insolvency or bankruptcy
If you feel you are insolvent or are considering bankruptcy, visit the Office of the superintendent of bankruptcy.
Consequences of not paying
If you do not pay your loan, or refuse to cooperate, the CRA may take legal action which could result in serious financial or legal consequences for you.
Before starting legal action, the CRA must do the following:
- make 1 attempt to give verbal legal warning by phone
- send 1 written legal warning letter
For more information, go to Legal warning about collection of debt.
Once the CRA has started any of the following legal actions, the CRA will not usually withdraw them.
Garnishing wages or other income sources
Demand on third party (redirect money owed to you by a third party)
The CRA can issue a demand on third party (DTP) to take funds that a third party owes you or holds for you. A third party could include a person or organization such as your employer, your bank or other sources of income.
The DTP is typically sent at 30% of your take home pay and 100% of funds held in your financial institution. The CRA will apply the funds to your debt.
For more information on DTP, go to Understanding a demand on third party
Set-off (redirect money owed to you by the federal government)
If you are owed money by any federal government department or agency, the CRA can issue a set-off to redirect the funds, and apply these amounts to your debt.
The CRA can use your federal income, goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credits or any future income tax refunds to reduce your debt.
Set-offs can be done even if you have a payment arrangement and are making payments.
Asset liens and seizures
The CRA can get a provincial judgement or a certificate from the Federal Court confirming the amount you owe. This will make your debt a matter of public record and allow the CRA to proceed with asset liens and seizures. The CRA will usually send you a letter to advise you that if you do not resolve your account, the CRA may take further legal action to pay the debt.
Registering a lien on assets
Once the debt is certified, or a judgement obtained, the CRA can register a lien against your assets and property, including your personal residence. Registering a lien will secure the amount of debt owing, by establishing creditor priority in the event of a sale. This means, if you sell your asset, your CRA debt is automatically paid from the proceeds of the sale, before you receive any remaining proceeds.
Seizing and selling your assets
If your debt remains outstanding, the CRA may get a writ or memorial to seize and sell your assets and property. This could include your car, boat, artwork, cottage, rental property, or personal residence.
If the CRA sells your assets, the CRA will use the proceeds to pay:
- the defaulted loan
- any costs charged by the bailiff hired to sell the assets on behalf of the CRA
You will still have to pay any remaining debt.
Contact the CRA
Calls from within Canada and the United States
You can complete a government programs debt call request to receive a callback from a CRA agent or locate the call topic and corresponding phone number from the tables below.
Make a payment arrangement for an existing debt
(from within Canada and the United States)
Call topics Phone number Hours of service Government programs debt 1-866-864-5825
Monday to Friday
8 am to 8 pm (ET)
Closed on public holidays
Teletypewriter (TTY) 1-800-665-0354
Monday to Friday
8 am to 8 pm (local time)
9 am to 5 pm (local time)
Closed on public holidays
See Services for persons with disabilities for information about services and alternative contact formats.
Calls from outside Canada and the United States
The CRA accepts collect calls by automated response. Contact your service provider or operator to initiate the collect call.
For general enquiries
(from outside Canada and the United States)
Call topics Phone number Hours of service International government programs debt 613-221-3004 Monday to Friday (except holidays)
8 am to 8 pm (Eastern time)
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