The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

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This page was last updated on July 7, 2020.

Who Qualifies?

  1. Post-secondary students who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens and who are currently enrolled in a post-secondary program of at least 12 weeks duration leading to a degree, diploma or certificate;
  2. Students who completed or ended post-secondary education in December 2019 or later; or
  3. Students who completed high school in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary education program that begins before February 1, 2021.

Students must be actively looking for a job, and cannot be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or EI for the same period.  If they are working, they must be earning less than $1,000 in the four-week period to qualify.

The benefit will be available for four 4-week periods from May 10, 2020 to August 29, 2020. 

Week One - May 10 to June 6, 2020
Week Two - June 7 to July 4, 2020
Week Three - July 5 to August 1, 2020
Week Four - August 2 to August 29, 2020

Students graduating high school before June 7, 2020 may apply for any period that starts after they complete high school.  Students who graduate after June 7, 2020 will only be eligible for the last two four-week periods.

How Much is the Benefit?

The CESB provides a $1,250 taxable benefit for each four-week period that the student is eligible.  Students with dependents or who are disabled are eligible for a $2,000 taxable benefit for each four-week period.

How to Apply

Where a student has never filed a Canadian tax return, they must call CRA at 1-800-959-8281 to register their Social Insurance Number in order to apply for the CESB.

CRA has requested that applications be made based on the applicant’s month of birth (January to March on Mondays, April to June on Tuesdays, July to September on Wednesdays, October to December on Thursdays, or any month on Fridays and weekends).  Applications can be made through My Account online or using the automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.  Applicants will need to supply their Social Insurance Number and postal code to apply and applications must be submitted for each 4-week period.

Looking for Work

The student may be required to provide evidence that they were looking for work while collecting the CESB.  It is recommended that students keep track of their daily job search activities.  The CRA notes that registering with the Government of Canada Job Bank may provide evidence that you are looking for work.

Interaction with the CERB

The CESB is designed to bridge the gap for post-secondary students that were left out of the CERB and other programs.

Earnings of up to $1,000 from other employment will be permitted without loss of this benefit. However, if you are currently receiving the CERB, and apply for the CESB, you will become ineligible to receive the CERB in subsequent months, as the $1,000 threshold would have been exceeded.

Other Information

Other changes currently being contemplated by the Government of Canada with respect the $9 Billion financial aid package announced for post-secondary students includes:

  • Increased funding for scholarships, fellowships and grants
  • Increasing the Canada Students Grants up to $6,000 for full-time students and up to $3,600 for part-time students for 2020-21 (including students with disabilities and students with dependents)
  • Introducing a new Canada Student Service Grant to provide up to $5,000 in funding to students doing volunteer work in Canada over the summer to support Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Students must be aged 30 or younger on December 31, 2020 and must have completed their studies in or after December 2019 or be enrolled in full-time or part-time education in 2020. The amount of funding received is based on the number of volunteer hours provided between June 25 and October 31, 2020. Student volunteers will receive $1,000 for every 100 hours of volunteer work performed to a maximum of $5,000.  You must register by August 21, 2020 to receive the grant and applications must be submitted no later than November 6, 2020.
  • Increased funding for First Nations, Inuit and Metis students
  • Increasing the maximum weekly amounts paid to students under the Canada Student Loans Program from $210 to $350 per week for 2020-21.
  • Broadening eligibility for student financial assistance by removing expected contributions in 2020-21
  • Extending expiring federal graduate research scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships, and supplementing existing federal research grants
  • Enhancing work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada