Note: due to the popularity of this post we will be hosting an AMA specifically on the CESB next week, probably Wednesday. Put your questions in the comment section here any time up to the time the AMA goes live.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced an additional $9 billion in economic supports in response to the continued COVID-19 crisis, putting students at the forefront this time with the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).
Other student work and grant initiatives were also announced:
- Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic which could include contact tracing or helping out on farms;
- Investing $291.6 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months to keep research projects and placements going, including for postdoctoral fellowships.
- Broadening eligibility for financial assistance and raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
- Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight to go towards their fall tuition;
- Providing $75.2 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
- Doubling the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21.The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents are also being doubled.
“COVID-19 has meant that there aren’t as many jobs out there for students,” said Trudeau, “and without a job, it can be hard to pay for tuition or the day-to-day basics. You might normally have turned to your parents for help, but right now mom and dad are stretched, too.”
Many students were already eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), but only if they had met the requirement of having earned $5,000 in the last 12 months and had a job lined up which has been cancelled because of the pandemic. If you are a student who did make that required amount, and who otherwise meets the requirements for the CERB (eg you filed your taxes for 2018 and your work opportunities have dried up because of the coronavirus, and you can provide documentation), you should consider applying for the $2,000/month CERB, as we reported last week. Today the information in that post was confirmed by the Prime Minister in his video address to the nation.
You can still make up to $1000/month in each four-week period in which you receive the CERB benefit, of course. There is a chance the government will at some point retroactively disallow this and bump you down to the $1250 a month CESB, so be aware that you are taking a calculated risk, and bank the difference in case you need it later.
If you are a college or university student (which includes people who are planning to start in September, people who completed their schooling in December 2019, and people who are completing now, obviously), and you did not make $5,000 last year, you can apply for the CESB instead of the CERB. You can also apply for CESB if you’re a student who may or may not have made $5,000 last year, but had not yet secured a summer job when the pandemic hit. And you can still apply if you do have a job, but it pays you $1000 a month or less, because under CESB you’re allowed to earn that much each month.
Do not apply to both CESB and CERB
If you’ve already applied for CERB, but don’t meet the requirements, do not apply for it in future months: apply for CESB. And if you’re not eligible for CERB but applied and received supports (oops), expect those to be clawed back at some point, probably on your taxes next year. So save the money, because you’ll need to give it back. Also remember that the CERB is untaxed but taxable – the CESB will likely be the same. You might find yourself owing approximately $300 per $1000 received. Keep in mind, students have lots of deductions available to them, and consider getting some professional help with your taxes next year; it’ll pay for itself.
Now to the nuts and bolts of the support: Under CESB you will be eligible for $1,250 a month, or $1,750 a month if you are disabled or acting as a carer for dependents, senior, disabled, or otherwise. As with CERB, you can earn up to $1000/month while on the CESB.
At this point, as it was only announced this morning, the how of the application is still unclear, although the Prime Minister did say it would be administered through the CRA. Watch Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the start page for all of the federal government’s financial aid in this time of crisis.
Trudeau also said that the CESB would be in effect May through September. We can probably assume that the process and limitations of the CESB will be the same or very similar to the CERB in that students will have to re-apply for each 4-week period, although it is yet to be seen. If they have to apply through the CRA system, which is likely, they will also likely need to have submitted a 2018 tax return in order to have access to that system.
Students can get a jump on the process by signing up for a MyCRA account today and making sure their tax status is up to date, although you do not have to have filed taxes for 2019 in order to apply. Still, not a bad idea.
4-week period cycle
- March 15, 2020 to April 11, 2020
- April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020
- May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020
- June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020
- July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020
- August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020
- August 30, 2020 to September 26, 2020
You can see our previous coverage of the CERB benefit by today’s guest author, MasterCowfish, here: