Post-Secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program: National Program Guidelines 2020 to 2021
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous partners in transforming the way the department adapts and implements policy and program reform. These guidelines are consistent with the terms and conditions that have been discussed with and informed by First Nations convened by the Assembly of First Nations. On December 3, 2018, the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly passed Resolution #05/2018, which supported the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal to the Government of Canada. In developing the terms and conditions, First Nations partners have noted that they do not view this strategy as a matter of social policy, and have asked that the following statements from the Policy Proposal be included:
- First Nations assert their right and responsibility to direct and make decisions regarding all matters relating to First Nations lifelong learning as an inherent and Treaty Right. First Nations assert an inherent and Treaty right to education that is in accordance with their cultures, values, traditions and languages to support holistic lifelong learning.
- First Nations are seeking strengthened Government of Canada support for First Nations postsecondary education through Treaty Based, self-government and/or regional models that enable First Nations control of First Nations education. Building on current best practices, the implementation of regional models will enable First Nations to holistically consider, design and implement a suite of integrated programs and services to comprehensively support post-secondary education attainment and success. Models must respect and promote local control, honouring the autonomy of First Nations to dictate their own models that will not minimize flexibilities that First Nations communities currently have. These models, once created, must be First Nations directed and managed.
These guidelines will be in place as First Nations proceed with the development of their regional post-secondary education models. These guidelines will be replaced as regional program guidelines are developed by First Nations and agreement is reached with ISC on implementation.
In addition, First Nations have identified that ongoing changes to federal policy and legislation (such as Bill S-3) can put pressure on First Nations governments to make timely and difficult decisions in regards to supporting First Nations students.
These guidelines have been amended in order to be consistent with First Nations control of First Nations education, the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal and the amended 2019 terms and conditions.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Objectives
- 3. Outcomes
- 4. Eligibility
- 5. Program requirements
- 6. Eligible expenditures
- 7. Funding
- 8. Monitoring and accountability
- 9. Reporting requirements
- 10. Contact information
- Annex 1: Glossary
- Annex 2: List of provincial or territorial Ministries of Education websites
- Annex 3: Student record files
The following Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) and University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP) National Program Guidelines will be in effect as of April 1, 2020.
These program guidelines include program and eligibility information. ISC regional offices may provide additional detail for the delivery of the programs and their services.
Any issues that arise concerning the interpretation of these program guidelines will be resolved by the Education program directorate with the support of ISC regional offices.
These program guidelines replace the 2019 to 2020 Post-Secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program National Program Guidelines.
2.1 Post-Secondary Student Support Program
The PSSSP provides non-repayable financial support for First Nations (Registered Indian) students to advance towards a recognized post-secondary education credential (including CEGEP, community college, undergraduate studies, advanced professional or post-graduate studies at eligible colleges and universities in Canada and abroad, and First Nations designated and directed institutions), as prioritized and directed by First Nations.
The program’s objectives are to improve socio-economic outcomes for First Nations by supporting First Nations in providing eligible students with funding to access education opportunities at the post-secondary level, consistent with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education. The overall aim of the program is to provide an inclusive and quality education by closing the education gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous Canadians.
If the provisions of a funding agreement are met, a recipient does not have to repay financial support to ISC. As indicated in Section 5.1, recipients may issue local program guidelines for the administration of the PSSSP and the UCEPP, including guidelines regarding the repayment of financial support by students to recipients.
2.2 University and College Entrance Preparation Program
The program objective is to provide non-repayable financial support for First Nations (Registered Indian) students who are enrolled in accepted university and college entrance preparation programs to enable them to attain the academic level required for entrance into degree and diploma credit programs, as prioritized and directed by First Nations.
3. Expected outcomes
These programs are expected to enable First Nations students to achieve levels of post-secondary education comparable to non-Indigenous students in Canada.
4.1 Eligible recipients
Eligible recipients under PSSSP and UCEPP are:
- band councils of recognized First Nations bands
- organizations designated by band councils (bands or settlements, tribal councils, education organizations, political or treaty organizations engaged by or on behalf of First Nations)
- self-governing First Nations in Yukon that have not yet assumed responsibility for post-secondary education through a programs and services transfer agreement or through the terms of their self-government agreement
In addition, ISC may also enter into funding agreements with funding agreement managers and recipient appointed advisors (in accordance with ISC’s default prevention and management policy) to administer PSSSP or UCEPP programming funds jointly with or on behalf of a First Nations community. In the case where such an agreement does not exist, the regional office in the province or territory where the student is residing is responsible to review and assess the student applications for funding.
4.2 Eligible students
To be eligible for funding, students:
- are status First Nations (registered Indians)
- maintain satisfactory academic standing, as determined by the recipient as defined in section 4.1, within an eligible post-secondary institution
Applications to ISC's programs are valid for 1 school year only. For information on how to apply, visit the Post-secondary education page.
Northwest Territories students
The Government of the Northwest Territories provides grants and bursaries to residents of the Northwest Territories (NWT). Students eligible for NWT support cannot receive funding from PSSSP or UCEPP.
Program recipients must not accept applications from people whose band or community is in the Northwest Territories unless the student can provide a statement from the Northwest Territories government that the student is not eligible for this support from these organizations because the student has not met their residency requirement.
James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and Northeastern Quebec Agreements (NEQA) students
Students who are eligible for support under The Cree School Board, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq School Board or the Central Québec School Board programs that are resourced by ISC consistent with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and the Northeastern Quebec Agreements (NEQA) cannot apply for support under PSSSP or UCEPP unless they have been outside of their territory for more than 10 years.
Program recipients must not accept applications from people whose band or community is in Northern Quebec unless the student can provide a statement from the Cree or Kativik or the Central Québec School Boards that the student is not eligible for this support from these organizations because the student has not met their residency requirement.
4.3 Eligible programs
Under the PSSSP and the UCEPP, an eligible program of studies (for example, trades, sciences, arts) is a program:
- for which the completion of secondary school studies, or the equivalent as recognized by the post-secondary institution or the provincial or territorial ministry of education, is required
- delivered at an eligible institution as defined in section 4.4
UCEPP programs must provide the student with the necessary courses to attain the academic level for post-secondary institution entrance.
Consult Annex 2: List of provincial or territorial Ministries of Education for information on student admissibility to a program of study.
Delivery method may be in-classroom, e-learning, distant learning or virtual learning as long as it meets all eligibility criteria.
4.4 Eligible institutions
Eligible post-secondary institutions are degree-, diploma- or certificate-granting institutions that are recognized by a province or territory in Canada or abroad. They include educational institutions affiliated with, or those that deliver post-secondary programs by arrangement with, a post-secondary institution, as well as First Nations designated and directed institutions.
A list of eligible Canadian post-secondary education institutions is available. This list is effective as of April 1, 2015 for new PSSSP or UCEPP students and will be updated and adjusted as necessary on an ongoing basis.
A list of eligible foreign institutions is available. This list is effective as of April 1, 2015 for new PSSSP or UCEPP students and will be updated and adjusted as necessary on an ongoing basis.
If the program of studies is in a foreign institution, the student must provide evidence that it is recognized in Canada as an acceptable post-secondary program of studies.
Additions to approved lists of post-secondary institutions
Where the institution selected by the student is not on ISC’s list of eligible post-secondary institutions, the recipient may submit a request to their ISC regional office for the institution to be added. The regional office will request documentation from the recipient to formulate a recommended action to ISC Education branch headquarters for discussion.
5. Program requirements
When locally administering the PSSSP and the UCEPP, recipients (as defined in section 4.1, Eligible recipients) must meet the following minimum standards:
- provision, administration and distribution of funding, within the recipient's budgetary envelope, to eligible post-secondary education students as per the maximum amount payable outlined in section 6.2, Maximum amount payable to students
- implementation and administration of a selection priority criteria that is publicly available
- development and implementation of rules for deferring applications in situations where there are more eligible students than funds available
- implementation and administration of an appeal process that is publicly available
5.1 Local operating guidelines
Recipients may issue local program guidelines for the administration of the PSSSP and the UCEPP.
Local guidelines may also include rates and allowances for amounts payable to students, provided that they do not exceed the maximum amount payable set out in section 6 Eligible expenditures and section 6.2 Maximum amount payable to students.
5.2 Potential selection priorities
Listed below are some examples of priority selection criteria that recipients may consider using in their local operating guidelines:
- continuing students (students already being funded through PSSSP or UCEPP)
- high school graduates
- deferred students (eligible but not funded in the past due to limited funding)
- recent PSE graduates who wish to further their studies
- new students already studying at a post-secondary level
- returning students
- part-time students
- strong academic standing
5.3 Appeal process
To ensure fairness and equitable treatment under the PSSSP and the UCEPP, recipients must have an appeal process in place that is accessible to students and that is publicly available. The appeal process must include the existence of an impartial appeal board, specific time frames for the appeal hearing to be set and for decisions to be made and a governance process confirming that the recipient will abide by the appeal board's decision.
- When an application is approved, rejected or deferred, students must be informed, in writing, if their application for support was approved, or the reasons for rejecting or deferring the application
- Where a student is convinced that the local or national program guidelines are not being fairly applied to his or her situation then the student shall have access to an appeal hearing
- There is no appeal against refusal of assistance because funds are not available
- The appeal board's ruling must be consistent with the intent of the PSSSP and UCEPP National Program Guidelines
- The appeal board's decision is final
- A student may not appeal to ISC the administrative decisions and appeal rulings made by the local appeal process
6. Eligible expenditures
Eligible expenditures for the PSSSP and UCEPP include student grants for academic and living expenses associated with pursuing a post-secondary education credential at an eligible post-secondary institution. These may include, but are not limited to:
- tuition and other student fees
- initial professional certification and examination fees
- books and supplies required by the student for their program of study
- official transcript fees
- application fees
- living expenses, including for dependents if applicable
- expenses associated with travel home, including for dependents if applicable
- supplemental tutorial, guidance and counseling services
- child care, as needed
- scholarship and incentive payments
- administration costs (as outlined in Section 6.3, Administration costs)
Retroactive funding is not permitted for studies in a previous fiscal or academic year.
Travel support for students
Travel support does not include moving expenses such as the removal of household effects.
Recipients are encouraged to ensure students seek economical means for travel, and to set maximum rates for which students are to be funded. Recipients may choose to refer to the rates set for government travel in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Travel Directive in determining eligible travel costs.
- Living allowance rates will be determined by the recipient. Recipients may choose to refer to the living allowance maximums set by the Canada Student Loan Program in determining eligible living costs.
- The living allowances will be paid in Canadian dollars regardless of the location of the institution.
- Living allowances are paid for Christmas and study breaks. Additional time may be allowed for students to settle into accommodation at the place of study at the beginning of the academic year and to move out at the end of the academic year.
- The recipient may provide to students an advance of the living allowance, for example, rent advances.
- Where a student is provided an advance, the recipient may spread the adjustment over the payment periods of the academic year and make the appropriate deductions from the living allowance for each payment period.
6.1 Eligible tuition
Tuition support may be provided under the following conditions:
- students attending eligible post-secondary institutions, including compulsory student fees charged by the institution for a student
- For Canadian public post-secondary institutions:
- the student will provide documentary evidence of tuition, registration and mandatory student fees.
- in exceptional circumstances, tuition support may be paid directly to the student as opposed to directly to the post-secondary institution.
- For private and foreign post-secondary institutions:
- for support purposes, students may enroll in any private post-secondary institution recognized by the provincial or territorial Ministry of Education or in an acceptable program of studies in a foreign institution (consult Section 4.4, Eligible institutions, of these guidelines).
6.2 Maximum amount payable to students
The maximum amount payable per full-time students under PSSSP or UCEPP cannot exceed $53,000 per year.
The actual amount of funding will depend on the overall amount of funding in the program and the number of recipients selected.
On an extraordinary and justified basis, full-time graduate students in an advanced professional degree program (such as dentistry, medicine) or a masters or doctoral program, may be awarded funding in excess of $53,000 up to a maximum of $90,000 per year. Such awards may be granted by special request on a case-by-case basis only, as determined by the recipient, and considered when a graduate student has extraordinary circumstances that warrant the setting aside of the standard policy on maximum amounts payable.
Part-time students, as defined by the post-secondary institution being attended, may receive assistance for tuition and fees, and the cost of books and supplies. Part-time students may be awarded assistance for living allowances or travel, typically at a prorated amount, as determined by the recipient.
This is a maximum allowable payment per student. No student is automatically entitled to this amount. The maximum amount was established to ensure that the most extreme circumstances could be funded as necessary. The actual amount of funding available to a student will depend on the overall amount of funding available in the program and for each recipient.
6.3 Administration costs
Administration costs must not exceed 15% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs. The program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI) will automatically calculate the amount.
Eligible administration costs include only the actual costs associated directly to administer PSSSP and UCEPP. These may include, but are not limited to:
- salaries and benefits of personnel directly employed in the administration and delivery of the funding. In the case of multiple responsibilities, the portion of the salary to be included under administration costs should be proportional to the amount of time spent fulfilling PSSSP and or UCEPP duties
- materials and resources required for the management of funds
- rent and utilities
- printing and communications costs, including web presence
- travel and accommodation
- the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements
- costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal
For travel and accommodation: recipients are encouraged to seek economical means for travel. Recipients may choose to refer to the rates set for government travel in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Travel Directive in determining eligible travel costs.
Further distribution of funds by ISC's funding recipients: when a funding recipient further transfers funds that were received under this program to a third party the 15% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 15% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.
7.1 Funding approaches
Transfer payments to funding recipients of the PSSSP and UCEPP may be made using fixed, flexible or block contribution, or through a grant, depending on the eligibility of the recipient and of the service to be delivered. Set funding may be used if the recipient so wishes. ISC regional officers can advise on the eligibility of these funding approaches as well as on the requirements related to the management of the funds. The funding approach used to transfer funds to a recipient is identified in the recipient’s signed funding agreement.
The following specific program directions for the management of transfer payments complement the directions provided in the recipient’s signed funding agreement and are to be read in conjunction with the funding agreement.
Set contribution funding
Reallocation of funding:
Reallocation of funds is not allowed with transfer payments made using set contribution.
Fixed contribution funding
Reallocation of funding:
During the fiscal year, recipients may reallocate funds between the PSSSP functional area and the UCEPP functional area. Reallocation of funds toward the administration post-secondary functional area is not allowed.
Recipients may retain unexpended funding from a fiscal year to expend in the 1 year period immediately following the fiscal year for which it was provided, on eligible activities and expenditures outlined in the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and University and College Entrance Preparation Program National Program guidelines 2020-2021.
Flexible contribution funding
Reallocation of funding:
During the fiscal year, recipients may reallocate funds between the PSSSP functional area and the UCEPP functional area. Reallocation of funds toward the administration post-secondary functional area is not allowed.
Recipients may retain unexpended funding remaining at the end of each fiscal year to expend in a subsequent fiscal year to further achieve results toward the program objective.
8. Monitoring and accountability
Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in these guidelines while also ensuring that the necessary management controls are in place to manage funding and monitor activities. Funding recipients are required to exercise due diligence when approving expenditures and must ensure that such expenditures are in accordance with the eligible expenditures set out in these guidelines.
ISC is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order for them to effectively carry out obligations under these guidelines and funding agreements. Regional offices and other departmental contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to ISC programs and funding.
ISC is accountable to provide funding to First Nations in a timely manner through contributions payments under the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Strategy.
To ensure that strategy outcomes and objectives are being met and opportunities for continuous improvement with a goal to improve results for First Nations peoples are being identified, activities including audits, evaluations and targeted strategy reviews (such as desk and on-site reviews) may be conducted with funding recipients. Ongoing, these activities may be developed through the regional post-secondary education strategies.
Refer to Annex 3 for more information concerning student record files requirements.
- The department's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of program compliance reviews will be limited to what is necessary to ensure program delivery requirements are met
- The department is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by ISC in accordance with the Privacy Act and other related policies on privacy. Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information per the privacy legislation, regulations or policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to ISC
9. Reporting requirements
The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) are listed in the recipient's funding agreement, and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that reporting requirements are met and reports are accurate and submitted on or before the established due dates. Recipients who have access to the ISC Services Portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the portal. If you do not have access to the portal, contact your regional office.
Recipients must report on all funds received and expended, including the use of unexpended funding they were allowed to retain to use in the following fiscal year.
Recipients shall use these guidelines in conjunction with their funding agreement with respect to reporting requirements.
10. Contact information
For further program information, please visit the Post-secondary education page.
The regional offices coordinates can be found on the Regional offices page.
You can also write to:
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
These guidelines can be consulted in the Education National Program Guidelines page of ISC's website and through the View Instructions button on the first page of this program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI).
Annex 1: Glossary
- Academic year
- defined by the post-secondary institution.
- defined by the Indian Act.
- Canadian public institution
- a post-secondary institution that receives the majority of its funding from federal and provincial governments.
- an abbreviation of Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel. CÉGEPs operate in Quebec.
- a person who is dependent upon the student as defined by Canada Revenue Agency and who does not receive income in excess of income allowed for a dependent spouse by Canada Revenue Agency.
- Dependent spouse
- a person who is married to the student or a person who has lived with the student as husband or wife for a period of at least one year prior to application for educational support. This person is dependent upon the student and does not receive income in excess of the level of income allowed for a dependent spouse by Canada Revenue Agency.
- Full-time students and part-time students
- defined by the post-secondary institution. Note that short term intensive summer programs may qualify at full time.
- Post-secondary education
- means a program of studies, offered by a eligible post-secondary institution, for which completion of secondary school studies or its equivalent is a prerequisite.
- Post-secondary institutions
- degree, diploma, and certificate granting institutions that are recognized by a province or territory in Canada or abroad. They include educational institutions affiliated with, or delivering accredited post-secondary programs by arrangement with a post-secondary institution, as well as First-Nations-designated and directed institutions.
- Private post-secondary institution
- a Canadian or foreign post-secondary institution which receives the majority of its funding from sources other than governments.
- Program of studies
- includes all post-secondary programs, at least, leading to a certificate, diploma or degree. Programs less than one academic year which are prerequisites to post-secondary programs of at least one academic year are included.
- an administering organization in receipt of funds intended to finance the PSSSP and UCEPP in accordance with the National Program Guidelines. This may be band Councils of recognized First Nations bands, organizations designated by Band Councils (bands/settlements, tribal councils, education organizations, political/treaty organizations engaged by or on behalf of First Nations), or other First Nations organizations which have responsibility for the administration of the program or a portion of it.
- a part of the academic year, as defined by the post-secondary institutions. Semesters usually cover the periods from September to December, January to April, and May to August. Number of semesters, period and length are defined by the individual institutions.
- an individual who has successfully applied to be funded under the PSSSP or UCEPP and fulfills the conditions of the programs in order to receive financial support to successfully attain a recognized post-secondary education credential.
- Treaty or status Indian and Indian
- a person whose name has been entered in the Indian Registry maintained by ISC as defined by the Indian Act.
Annex 2: List of provincial or territorial Ministries of Education websites
- New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
- Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour
- Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education
- Prince Edward Island Education and Lifelong Learning
Annex 3: Student record files
|Name of applicant|
|Indian registry number|
|Address and contact information|
|Previous education history|
|Proof of admission|
|Post-secondary education eligible institution|
|Eligible program of studies|
|Length of program|
|Required books and supplies list|
|Tuition and fees receipts|
|Books and supplies receipts|