Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is CESB?
A: CESB, or the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit, is an income supplement provided by the federal government to provide students and recent grads (from post-secondary and high school) who do not qualify for CERB with funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What does CESB entail?
A: There are four 4-week periods in which students/grads may be eligible for payments. These payments are $1250/period OR $2000/period if you have a disability or dependent.

Q: Am I eligible to receive CESB?
A: You must be either a:

  • Canadian citizen (including dual citizen);
  • Registered Indian under the Indian Act;
  • Permanent resident; or
  • Protected person
  • Additionally meet ONE of the three the following
    • Unable to work due to COVID-19;
    • Are looking but unable to find work due to COVID-19; OR
    • Working, but earning less than $1000 (before tax) per 4-week period

Q: How can I get rid of CERB and get CESB?
A: It is recommended that if you DO qualify for CERB, that you continue to take it rather than CESB. With CERB, you are receiving $2000 per four-week period, where as with CESB you are receiving $1250* (*can qualify for up to $2000 with CESB if you have a disability OR dependent).

Q: Do some students qualify for CERB rather than CESB?
A: Yes, if a student has earned more than $5000 in the year prior.

Q: Do international students qualify for CESB?
A: No.

Q: What are the four periods?
A: 1. May 10 - June 6, 2020
2. June 7 - July 4, 2020
3. July 5 - August 1, 2020
4. August 2 - August 29, 2020

Q: Are there any post-secondary institutions (universities, colleges) that do NOT qualify for CESB?
A: Brock University IS a qualified institution. For information on other institutions please visit here or here.

Q: Do some students qualify for CESB, CERB and Unemployment Insurance (EI)?
A: No, you are only eligible to receive ONE of these benefits at a time.

Q: I am an incoming university student, am I eligible to receive this benefit?
A: Yes, you are eligible if you have completed or expect to complete high school in 2020, AND who have applied for a post-secondary program that will start BEFORE February 1, 2021.

Q: I am a recent graduate of university, am I still eligible for CESB?
A: Yes, but only if you graduated NO EARLIER than December 2019.

Q: Am I eligible to get CESB if I am currently working?
A: Yes, BUT only if you make LESS than $1000 (before tax) per 4-week period.

Q: Will receiving CESB have an impact on my taxes?
A: The CESB is taxable. This means you will need to report any amounts you received from the CESB on next year’s income tax return. You will receive a T4A tax slip for the amount of CESB you receive. The tax slip will also be available in your CRA My Account for the 2020 tax year. If you repay the CESB before December 31, 2020, the CRA won't include the amount you’ve repaid on your T4A slip.

Q: Do I have to pay this money back to the government?
A: No you do not.

Q: How will this impact my OSAP?
A: If you receive OSAP funding, any additional funding you receive from these benefit programs during your study period must be reported. Any CESB funding received during the study period is treated as study period income with OSAP and subject to the $5,600 per term income exemption.

Q: I do not have a CRA account, nor have I filed a Canadian tax return, what do I do?
A: If you have not filed a Canadian tax return, you will not have a CRA account. To set up your account, call 1-800-959-8281 or visit the CRA website.

Q: Do I need to be in Canada right now to receive this benefit?
A: No you do not, but again, ONLY if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Q: When and where can I apply for CESB?
A: Applications opened on May 15, 2020. You can apply here: Canada's official CERB website.

Q: Where can I find more information about CESB from a credible source?
A: For more information, please visit Canada's official CERB website.