Every student's Application and situation is different.

That's why we have an appeal process to help those students whose financial situation can't be accurately captured by completing a standard Application. If you believe your assessment doesn't reflect your true financial need, you may have grounds for an appeal.

Do you have grounds for an appeal?
How does the appeal process work and who decides the outcome of an appeal?
How do you submit an appeal?
What are some examples of common appeals?

 Do you have grounds for an appeal?

Not every student's Assessment can be appealed. Before you start the appeal process, you should be aware of what can be appealed and what cannot.

  • Even if your educational expenses and need are high, our programs are restricted by maximum Student Loan and Grant amounts. These maximum amounts are the same for every Nova Scotia student, and they cannot be increased through an appeal.
  • You cannot simply write to say you need more money, or that your parents or spouse will not give you any money. This statement alone is not considered to be grounds for an appeal. If you are a dependent student, or an independent student with a spouse, your assessment assumes your educational expenses will be supported by your parents' or spouse's income(s). The amount of their contributions is assessed using their income. Appeals of family/spouse contributions that are based on family budgets or family debt loads are not considered, except in very few circumstances (see "Common Appeals")
  • You cannot appeal to have a non-designated program included in the Master Designation List (MDL) and you cannot appeal to have an individual exception made under our Designation criteria.

The Appeal Board’s function is to look more closely at the exceptional expenses and circumstances of students whose situations can’t be fully explained within the standard application. Your situation may be one of our most common kinds of appeal or some other exceptional circumstance, but it's always very important that you explain your situation fully to the Appeal Board, and show proof of any expenses.



How an appeal works

The Student Assistance offers two levels of appeal.
All appeals are first reviewed by the . . .


Lower Appeal Board

The Lower Appeal Board is an internal Board, which meets weekly. You cannot meet with this Board in person, but you may get advice from a Financial Aid Counsellor about submitting your appeal. You can also review the steps below, and all other information on this page regarding appeals. An appeal made to this board consists of submitting a Letter of Appeal and any supporting documents that show how your student assistance assessment doesn’t reflect your true financial situation.

If you are not satisfied with the Lower Appeal Board’s decision, you may request (in writing) that your Appeal be reviewed by the Student Aid Appeal Committee.


The Student Aid Appeal Committee

The Student Aid Appeal Committee (formerly known as the Higher Appeal Board) is an independent board appointed by the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education which meets as required. Its members include representatives from the university community, student groups and the general public. You may request a conference call with the Committee or request to meet in person. The Committee’s decision will be available from the Student Assistance Office within 3 days of their meeting.


How to appeal

If you feel you do have grounds for an appeal, simply send us a Letter of Appeal, explaining your case. It is very important to follow these steps if you want your appeal reviewed quickly.

  • Review your Assessment in MyPATH.
  • Indicate specifically, in writing, which part of your assessment is not a good reflection of your actual needs or resources.
  • Remember, you must provide the Appeal Board with a concrete reason(s) to change your assessment. Explain completely and concisely, in writing, your grounds for appeal.
  • Provide third-party professional documentation to support your appeal. Examples might include: Receipts for exceptional expenses, letters from employers that confirm income and the period it was earned, a letter from a counsellor, clergy, police officer or doctor confirming family breakdown and/or police interventions, etc. If you are not sure what documents you should send with your appeal, you can call a Financial Aid Counsellor at our office for advice.

Submit your information:

Via Uploader in MyPATH: Upload documents in your MyPATH account via Uploader

By mail: PO Box 2290, Halifax Central, Halifax NS B3J 3C8

In person: Nova Scotia Student Assistance Office, 1256 Barrington St., Halifax, NS B3J 3C8. (after hours drop box available)

By fax: (902) 424-0540



Common appeals

Here are examples of two of our most common kinds of appeal.

Independent vs. Dependent Status

If there is a family breakdown beyond the normal disagreements between parents and students, the Board may agree to change your student category from Dependent to Independent. A family breakdown of this kind usually results in the student having left home or having been removed by a social service agency. Circumstances that are beyond normal disagreements include sexual, physical or psychological abuse by one or both parents.

You must support this appeal with a letter giving the following information:

  • reasons for the breakdown
  • the date you left your family home
  • any steps that were taken to remedy the situation, and whether or not a reconciliation is possible
  • a description of the specific kinds of outside help/professional involvement that occurred and how long each professional has been involved in the situation. Professional involvement could include social service agencies, psychologists, counsellors and guidance counsellors.
  • A letter from a professional who was/is directly involved and who can confirm your situation. This can include clergy, social workers, guidance counsellors, doctors and lawyers.
  • If possible, a letter from a parent confirming the family breakdown.


Parents' Exceptional Expenses

If your family has had exceptional expenses, the Board may deduct a portion or all of these expenses from their income before calculating the family contribution. Some examples are:

  • funeral costs
  • essential home repairs
  • costs related to necessary medical treatment or care of a disabled family member
  • the cost of maintaining a second residence if one parent is required to work away from home.
  • travel costs to work if one parent works outside commuting distance from the family home.

You must explain the necessity of the expense and send proof of the cost, such as bills/invoices, receipts for payment, etc.