Help with tuition - Island Advantage Bursaries and Debt Reduction

The Island Advantage will help students access higher education and launch their careers at home.  These recently announced investments in students mean that all Island students can receive more help with tuition, more than 1000 Islanders will have free tuition, and all grads living in PEI will get more help paying off their student loans.

Island Advantage - George Coles

Most Island students will receive more money in annual bursaries starting this fall. This could mean $4400 to $8800 in bursaries, depending on your program of study. Learn more about the amount of tuition supports you may be eligible for - Investments in Student Financial Assistance

To receive this money, students simply need to enrol at UPEI, Holland College, Maritime Christian College or College de l’Ile. The Island Advantage - George Coles Bursary is only for first-time students.

To be eligible, students must be a resident of PEI. Make sure your school has your Social Insurance Number to prove your residency. Students already receiving tuition help through Skills PEI may not be eligible.

Island Advantage - low and middle-income students

Low and middle-income Islanders can access needs-based support on top of the other bursaries. When combined with existing supports, this bursary is expected to provide more than 1,000 qualifying students with free tuition. Learn more about the amount of tuition supports you may be eligible for - Investments in Student Financial Assistance

To find out if you qualify, apply for a student loan. By applying for a student loan, we will assess your income and tell you how much support you are eligible for. Student loan applications are available in June and you should get your application in by July 15 to ensure you receive your loan in September.

To be eligible, you must attend one of PEI’s publicly-funded institutions UPEI, Holland College, Maritime Christian College or College de l’Ile. This bursary is available to all Island students, including those receiving help from Skills PEI and pursuing their second degree.

Debt reduction - More help paying off your student loans

Students with provincial student loans can apply for $3,500 per academic year in debt reduction. To access this help, file an application for debt reduction.

Students will need to reside in Prince Edward Island after graduation. To prove their residency, students will be required to file a tax return as a Prince Edward Island resident.

The increase to debt reduction will commence in 2018-2019 academic year, but you are still eligible for up to $2000 in debt reduction if you’ve graduated in previous years. You have up to three years after graduation to apply. All loans must be in good standing to qualify for the debt reduction grant.

Common questions about the Island Advantage 

How will this help students?

We know a post-secondary education is important and we know many students are worried about the financial barriers. We’ve heard the concerns of the student unions and the Youth Futures Council and at YDAY and we really appreciate their advice and assistance with this. In a nutshell, all Island post-secondary students will receive more money in bursaries starting this fall 2018.

How is the Island Advantage – George Coles expanding?

If you are a PEI student, you could get $4400 to $8800 in bursaries, depending on your program of study. No application is required. To receive this money, simply enroll as a first-time student at UPEI, Holland College, Maritime Christian College or College de l’Ile.

For the George Coles, you used to receive $2200 in your first year. What’s changing?

You will receive $2200 every year. Students used to receive between $400-2200 depending on which year they were in, but now they receive $2200 per year.

What about if I’m already studying at a PEI school? Can I get help in my second, third, or fourth year?

Yes, this bursary is dispersed annually.  You will be eligible for the Island Advantage any year of your first degree. For those taking their second degree, they are not eligible for the George Coles but may be eligible for other help.

Are there eligibility exceptions to the George Coles?

Most PEI students attending PEI schools are eligible. There are two possible exceptions to the Island Advantage - George Coles. You must be in your first degree, so George Coles doesn’t apply if you go for a second degree. And if you’re already receiving a tuition subsidy from Skills PEI, you won’t be eligible to get extra money. However, these students may still be eligible for the Island Advantage - Low and Middle Income and Debt Reduction.

How can a student be eligible for free tuition?

Students of low and middle-income families can get needs-based support on top of other bursaries. For more than 1,000 Island students this will mean free tuition.

For the extra help, students should apply for a student loan and your income will be assessed to determine how much support you can get. The first student loan application deadline is July 15. Applying by July 15 means you’ll get your financial help in September.

What is the definition of low and middle-income?

There are some variables so students should contact our office for help to know what they are eligible for.

What about PEI students who go to school elsewhere?

Students still may have some debt after graduation, so students with provincial student loans, who live in PEI within three years of graduating, can get up to $3,500 per academic year in debt reduction.

If you graduated earlier than 2018, you are still eligible for up to $2,000 in debt reduction.

Students who study in PEI are also eligible for debt reduction.

How do students get this money?

For the Island Advantage – George Coles, any Island student will get this money automatically. They just need to enroll in a PEI school.

For the extra help for low and middle-income students, you have to apply for a student loan and we’ll assess your income and let you know how much you are eligible for.  While you do apply through student loans, this doesn’t mean you have to get a student loan. We just use the student loan application assess your income.

For debt reduction, you just apply through our website.

Can I still get this money if I’m on income support or EI?

You will still get George Coles if you’re in the Career Connect program, on EI, or receive other types of government help.

For the low and middle-income grants, students should be aware that if they get any sort of income, including income from EI or Career Connect, this will affect how much student loan and grant they can receive.  

But staff will fill help them understand the potential support so students will know all the details before they start off to school.

Why the focus on PEI students? What about students that choose to study elsewhere?

We want to encourage people to stay here and study because we have great post-secondary schools.

But we know people may choose to study elsewhere. If they return to PEI after graduation, they will get more help with debt reduction, so there is money here for everyone.

Can I get this help if I have a disability?

Yes, students with disabilities can receive these supports and may be eligible for even more help. Contact Student Financial Services for more details.

How do I learn more?

Contact Student Financial Services at (902) 368-4640 or

Published date: 
April 25, 2018
Workforce and Advanced Learning

General Inquiries

Student Financial Services
176 Great George Street
2nd Floor, Atlantic Technology Centre
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-4640

The 2017-2018 student loan application is now available.