Here's everything students need to know about the $1,250 per month CESB
BY: Jamie Golombek
If you’re a post-secondary student who just finished the winter semester only to learn that your summer job as a lifeguard at the local community pool has been kyboshed as a result of COVID-19, you can now apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. Launched on Fri., May 15, the CESB provides emergency financial relief to students, as well as recent high school and post-secondary graduates, who are unable to find work for reasons related to COVID-19. It’s also available to eligible students and recent grads who are working but are making under $1,000 per month, for up to four months, from May through August 2020.
Here’s how the program works and how to apply.
Who is eligible?
Students, of any age, including those who are studying abroad, are eligible for the CESB if the student is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. International students, temporary workers who have a social insurance number (“SIN”) beginning with “9,” and non-resident students with international tax numbers, are not eligible.
There are three categories of “students” who are eligible to apply: current students, students who have recently graduated or left school, and prospective students.
A current student is a student who is currently enrolled in a post-secondary education program, be it full-time, part-time or as a summer student. For the purposes of the CESB, the program must be taken at the post-secondary level (i.e. at a university or college level, including education of a technical or vocational nature, as well vocational training at the secondary level in Quebec), must consist of a series of courses that last at least 12 weeks leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate, and the institution must be on the government’s list of designated schools.
Former students may also qualify if they graduated from or left their post-secondary studies as of December 2019 (or later), as do high school students who have either completed, or are expected to complete, high school in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary educational program that begins before Feb. 1, 2021. High school students who have quit school without graduating are not eligible.
High school students who graduate between June 7 and Dec. 31, 2020, and have applied for post-secondary studies and who plan to enroll if accepted, are only eligible to receive two months of the CESB (July and August). Those who complete high school before June 7, 2020 are eligible to apply for the period that starts after their graduation. For example, if a student graduates on May 30, 2020, they can apply for three periods of the CESB (June, July and August).
Note that students are not eligible for the CESB if they are receiving either the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance benefits for the same four-week period.
When applying, a student must attest that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are either unable to work, they are seeking work but are unable to find it, or that they are working but are unable to make more than $1,000 over the four-week period for which they are applying.
Students who are able to work but simply aren’t able to find employment right now must continue to actively look for a job to be eligible to receive the CESB. As the summer progresses, if the student still can’t find work due to COVID-19 (or earns under $1,000), they can re-apply for each future successive CESB period for which they’re eligible.
The Canada Revenue Agency indicated that it may ask students to provide information later to verify that they’ve been looking for work during the eligibility periods for which they’ve applied. For example, a student may be asked to submit a report on their daily job search activities, which can include: browsing and applying for job postings online, preparing a resume or cover letter, attending virtual job search workshops, taking career orientation quizzes, cold-calling employers and attending a job interview. The government encourages students to document the progress of their job search every day, and has provided a sample job search form that can be used as a template.
The $1,000 income limitation
Students working full- or part-time can earn up to $1,000 during the four-week period for which they’re applying for CESB. The $1,000 includes employment or self-employment income, taxable benefits and allowances provided by an employer, tips a student may earn while working, non-eligible dividends (typically paid from private companies), honoraria and artist royalties. It does not include student grants and loans, scholarships, bursaries and graduate stipends, nor does it include any income your spouse, partner or other family member may earn.
How much can you receive?
Eligible students can receive $1,250 per month, plus an additional $750 per month if they have dependents or a disability, for a maximum of $2,000 per month. The CESB is available for four months, from May 2020 to August 2020, and students will be able to retroactively apply until Sept. 30, 2020.
A student with a disability must attest to having an impairment, such as a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders their “full and equal participation in society.” A student with a dependent is someone who has at least one child under the age of 12, or a person with disability who is wholly dependent on them or their spouse or partner.
The CESB is taxable and students will receive a T4A reporting the total amounts they received to use when filing their 2020 tax returns. The amount of tax payable on the CESB will depend on the student’s total 2020 income, as well as various personal tax credits, including the (enhanced) basic personal amount and the tuition tax credit, among others.
How to apply?
Students can apply for the CESB through the CRA’s My Account and are encouraged to choose the direct deposit payment option for quick payment. Students who have never filed a tax return must call the CRA to register their SIN. Students who want to avoid calling, and want to apply online need to file a 2019 (or 2018) tax return, have it assessed, and then register for a CRA My Account.
Repaying the CESB
If a student who has received the CESB is later deemed to be ineligible, perhaps because they earned more than $1,000 before taxes during the four-week period for which they received the benefit, they will need to repay the CESB which can be done through the CRA My Account.