Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

I need a financial plan, where do I start?

Two really good resources are the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the CanLearn websites. Here you will find information for before and while you are in school on the following:

  • Saving and budgeting your money
  • Working part-time
  • Repaying loans and debt free solutions
How do I pay for school and graduate without a huge debt?

For most post-secondary students, money is tight. But remember, every dollar you can save while you’re in school is one less dollar that you’ll owe in student debt when you graduate. Consider whether the tips below will work for you:

  • Live at home while in school. Going away for school is a great experience, however it is also a great cost. If you are able, stay at home as long as possible. If it is not, consider living with roommates, sharing accommodations, or living in residence rather than living on your own.
  • Apply for grants, bursaries, and scholarships. These are resources to 'free' money that does not need to be paid back, so it is worth your while to research and apply for as many as possible. Visit the following resources for help finding grant, bursaries, and scholarships:
  • Manage your student loan and other borrowing carefully. If you are assessed for a greater loan amount than you need, request only the amount that is needed. Avoid increasing your debt by spending more than you need to, simply because the funds are available to you. Be sure to stay on track with your budget to make sure that you have enough funds to get you through to the end of the term.
  • Be wary of using credit. Credit cards and other sources of credit are very expensive ways to borrow money if you aren’t diligent in paying off your balance every month. It is a downward spiral that is best avoided all together.
  • Opt out of health and dental coverage ONLY IF you already have similar coverage. If you are still covered for health and dental on your parent’s plan, or another plan you already pay into, you may be able to opt-out of your student health and dental fees and be reimbursed for this money. However, keep in mind that you may need to provide proof of this in order to successfully opt-out, as well as, there may be an opt-out deadline. It is best to discuss your options with the school before making any decisions.
  • Buy, sell, and swap old text books. Take part in selling, swapping and buying used text books whenever possible. Be sure to check with your instructor or school bookstore that you are acquiring the correct or equivalent edition of texts, as they change often and are sometimes unusable once they do. If the school bookstore does not offer used book options, they may have resources as to who does in your area.
  • Use your student discounts. Many businesses offer student discounts and rates, so take full advantage when able. Check with the school’s student association for resources to local businesses that offer student discounts and rates. You can also sign up for the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which will get you discounts on a range of products and services and is usually free to post-secondary students.
  • Shop around, use coupons, and look for bargains. anywhere that you can save a buck helps. Look for sales, discounts, and specials, and shop as fruitfully as possible.
  • Take advantage of tax deductions and tax credits. Check with both the provincial and federal governments for the tax credits and deductions that are available to students on things like tuition fees, books, moving expenses, and more.
  • Save on transportation costs. Walking, biking, and using public transit are the cheapest ways to get around. Check with the Student's Union Office for student rates on bus passes.
Why is my family expected to pay with respect to government student assistance?
Government student assistance is designed to supplement, not replace, family resources.

If a student does not meet the government’s criteria to be an independent student, the student’s parental income will be required to determine if a financial contribution is expected.

NOTE: It is important to note that the government will consider circumstances such as disability and how many dependents are in the family.

If I'm living away from home, am I considered dependent or independent for government student aid purposes?

Dependent students are considered by StudentAid BC to be financially dependent on their parent(s), step-parent(s), sponsor(s) or legal guardian(s). Dependent students have never been married, or do not have dependent children, or have not been out of high school for 48 months, or have not been in the labour force for two periods of 12 consecutive months.

Independent students are regarded by StudentAid BC as being financially independent of their parent(s), step-parent(s), sponsor(s) or legal guardian(s). Independence is determined by such factors as length of time out of high school, marital status, and number of years in the full-time labour force.

Awards

What is the difference between an award, a scholarship and a bursary?
Awards

A non-repayable award given to students to help fund their education. Awards can be in the form of a bursary, scholarship, fellowship or other type of award based on criteria such as financial need, extracurricular involvement, leadership, etc.

Bursaries

A non-repayable award based on financial need.

Scholarships

A non-repayable award given to students to recognize academic excellence or achievements.

When can students start looking for awards?

There are different awards available year round. Please visit OC Awards Application Info for the application period for each award categories.

Where can I get information on scholarships, awards or bursaries?

Okanagan College provides an Awards Guide that lists all of the scholarships and bursaries available to students through Okanagan College. Since some awards have very specific criteria that must be met, make sure to read the eligibility criteria carefully.

How to apply for Okanagan College awards?

To apply for awards you must login to your myOkanagan account and navigate to the Financial Aid and Awards channel on the Applicant page or Student page and click on Apply Online for Awards.

New Portal Apply For Awards Link
Apply now button

For more information about how to navigate the online awards page, watch this short demo video to help you get started!



For a more detailed look at the online application step by step watch the video below:
What should I do if I get an award?

Follow the instructions regarding Thank You Matters when you get an award.

How do I find my award application status?

If you applied online for awards you can check your application status online in your MyOkanagan account. Once logged in navigate to the Financial Aid & Awards channel on the Applicant or Student page and click on View Online Awards Applied for.


View Online Awards Applied For

Once in the View Applications screen, you will see a list of all awards applications you have completed by term and the individual awards your have applied for. If you are approved you will be emailed directly with details of which award you have received and how/when the award will be presented to you.

When are award applications decisions made?

Click on the application types below to find out award decision timelines and when you can expect to find out if you have been successful

Fall

After applications close in mid-September, decisions will be made by the end of October. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend the November Kelowna Awards Reception (usually third Thursday in November), depending on the award received.

Winter

After applications close at the end of January, decisions will be made by the end of March. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

Summer

After applications close at the end of May, decisions will be made by the end of July. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

After applications close at the end of March, decisions will be made by the end of May for the following awards

  • Okanagan College Presidents Entrance Scholarships
  • Okanagan College Community Spirit Awards
  • Okanagan College Board of Governors Entrance Awards
  • Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship for Secondary School Students
Fall

After applications close in mid-September, decisions will be made by the end of October. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend one of the November Award Reception(s):

  • Kelowna & Any Campus Awards Reception (third Thursday in November)
  • Penticton Awards Reception November
  • Salmon Arm Awards in person presentation arranged with recipients & donors
  • Vernon Awards Reception November
Winter

After applications close at the end of January, decisions will be made by the end of April. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

Summer

After applications close at the end of May, decisions will be made by the end of July. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

Fall

After applications close in at the end of July decisions will be made by the end of October. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend one of the November Award Reception(s):

  • Kelowna & Any Campus Awards Reception (third Thursday in November)
  • Penticton Awards Reception November
  • Vernon Awards Reception November
Fall Salmon Arm ONLY

After applications close in mid-May decisions will be made by mid-June, recipients will be invited to attend the Salmon Arm Awards Reception in June

Winter

After applications close at the end of January, decisions will be made by the end of April. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

Winter

After applications close in at the end of May decisions will be made by the end of October. or earlier depending on award. Award cheques will either be presented individually in person with donor or you will be invited to attend the November Award Reception at Kelowna (third Thursday in November).

Trades Completion

After applications close at the end of March decision will be made by the end of April. Awards are presented at the Trades Commencement or Summer Convocation.

Online

After the application end date has passed recipients will be notified usually within two months. Award cheques will either be mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

No Application Required

Awards not requiring application occur throughout the year, students are notified usually via email if they have been successful and awards are either mailed out to recipients or you will be invited to attend a monthly presentation.

How do I accept an award offer?

If you got selected to received a no application required award, you will be notified by email. To accept the offer, simply login to your myOkanagan account. Navigate to the Financial Aid & Awards channel and select View Offers & Commitments. Please be mindful of the expiry date of the offer.

Student Loans

Is my program eligible for funding?

Most full-time programs that are longer than 12 weeks in duration are eligible for funding. If you are not sure whether your program is eligible, please contact our office directly.

I need government student loans and grants. How do I apply?

Online applications for government student loans and grants are available on the StudentAid BC website. At this website, you can:

  • apply for student assistance (student loans & grants)
  • Check the status of your application; and
  • find information on the entire student loan process from applying to repaying

Note: there is only one application for both loans & grants​.

When does the StudentAid BC Online Application Portal open?

The StudentAid BC online application portal opens around the beginning of June each year.

What happens with my student loan if I drop below full-time enrollment?

The school automatically notifies the government should you withdraw or drop to below the minimum 60% course load requirement (40% for students with a permanent disability as approved by StudentAid BC). This may put you in an "over-award" situation; over-awards are deducted from future assistance if not repaid.

If the withdrawal pattern is repeated, you may be denied any more Student Loans.

I do not want a loan, can I just apply for grants?

There is no separate application for grants. When you applied for student loan, you are automatically being assessed for any grants that you are eligible for.

Can I get a student loan to take upgrading to get my BC Adult Graduation Diploma or prerequisites for Post-Secondary study?

Student loans and grants are not available for the Adult Academic and Career Preparation program. However the Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG) is available to eligible applicants.

Go to the Other Funding Page to read more about the Adult Upgrading Grant.

How do I inform previous lenders that I am a Full-Time student, so that I am not required to make loan payments or have interest accruing on my past loans?

If you are still studying full-time but no longer receiving funding through StudentAid BC, you need to apply for interest-free status to delay paying back your student loan. The online interest-free application (on the StudentAid BC website) will need to be submitted, and can only be done by students attending B.C. public post-secondary schools at this time. The online form will then be sent electronically to your school for confirmation of enrollment and then to your loan providers for assessment.

What should I do if I'm denied government student assistance, or my award is too small?

If your student loan/grant assessment comes back to you as denied or with a smaller funding amount than expected, you may be eligible to request a re-assessment or appeal of your application.

An appointment with a Financial Awards Assistant is required to go over your options and advise you of the correct processes.

What is the minimum course load requirement for full-time student assistance?

To be eligible for full-time student assistance, you must be registered in at least 60% of a full course load (40% for students with permanent disabilities as approved by StudentAid BC) for the entire educational period covered by your student loan application.

Please note: previously passed courses and courses which are audited, wait listed, Adult Academic and Career Preparation (upgrading) or PLA (Prior Learning Assessment) are NOT counted in the minimum course load calculation. It is your responsibility to ensure that the courses you are registered in meet the minimum course load requirement. Should you have any questions, contact the Financial Aid & Awards Office.

The minimum 60% course load requirements by program at Okanagan College:

  • All university transfer, degree and diploma programs: 9 credits per semester.
  • All vocational, trades and health certificate programs: the full program as outlined in the Okanagan College Calendar. If you will be taking less than the full program, you must speak with a Financial Awards Assistant to ensure you are enrolled in the minimum 60% course load (or 40% for students with permanent disabilities as approved by StudentAid BC) for the entire educational period covered by your StudentAid BC application.​
Can I get a student loan while on Income Assistance?

Students who are receiving B.C. Income Assistance for PWD from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR) are (with approval of their Employment and Assistance Worker), eligible to apply for StudentAid BC funding.

Adult Upgrading Grant

Am I eligible for Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG)?

Eligibility criteria:

  • You are a Canadian Citizen, Permanent Resident or Protected Person
  • You are enrolled in an eligible program (ABE, ASE or EL)
  • You demonstrate financial need
What costs does AUG cover?

AUG covers tuition, ancillary fees, supplies, transportation and unsubsidized child care.

Which courses qualify?

Qualifying courses are as follows:

  • Adult Basic Education (ABE)
  • Adult Special Education (ASE)
  • English Language (EL)
  • English for Academic Purposes (EAP)
Is there information I definitely need to have in order to fill out the application form?

Yes. You and your spouse (if applicable) must provide a copy of your previous year's tax return or other proof of income.

If you are under the age of 22 and reside with your parent(s), your parent(s) must provide proof of income as well. See the application for examples of proof of income.

What if I am taking ABE courses and post-secondary level courses at the same time?
If you are taking ABE/ESL and: You can apply for:
Enrolled in between 3 and 8.75 Academic Credits Part-time Student Loans and Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG)
Enrolled in between 9 and 14.75 Academic Credits Full-time Student Loans
Enrolled in between 15 and more Academic Credits OR Full-time in a vocational program Full-time Student Loans and Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG)
I am approved for AUG funding, how do I receive the money?

Money is applied directly to your OC student account first. Any additional money for extra supports such as supplies, transportation and child care will be sent directly to you by cheque.

I have already paid for my classes, can I still apply for AUG?

Yes! Students can apply for AUG any time prior to the last week of class (subject to government funding).

Parent Questions

How do I release my information?

Parents should note that Okanagan College cannot release student information to any third party (including immediate family, parents...etc.) without prior written consent.

To Release Information Complete the Following Steps

  1. Go to the students MyOkanagan account
  2. Scroll to the Consent to Release Information box
  3. Consent to Release Information
  4. Complete the form and click the "Save" button

Upon completing the Consent to Release Information form, the person registered may now have access to the allowed information.