Resources for low-income students

As we end this semester and look forward to the fall semester, we’ve compiled a list of resources for SFU students to access if they need some financial assistance.

Photo: Government of BC

By: Devona Petrovic, Staff Writer



  • Government Aid: Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)


The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is available to post-secondary students and recent graduates who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens, and have been financially impacted by COVID-19 circumstances. One eligibility period is four weeks, for which eligible students will receive a $1,250 payment. Students can only apply for one period at a time and must reapply when the next period becomes available. More information on eligibility, as well as directions for applying can be found on the Government of Canada website

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is for employed and self-employed Canadians, whose ability to work has been impacted. It provides a payment for every four week period from May to August 2020 if students are eligible: this includes students that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 or are unable to start an intended position, or are international students whose jobs have been involuntarily terminated due to COVID-19. Application and eligibility details are also available on the Government of Canada website. 

Note that CESB is intended for students who do not qualify for CERB, so students can only receive one of the two. 



  • SFU Urgent Response Fund 


SFU’s Urgent Response Fund is available to undergraduate, graduate, International, and domestic students who are currently enrolled in classes. Students can request funds for immediate support for things like covering rent, or flights back to their homes. To request the emergency financial aid, students can call Financial Aid and Awards (778-782-6930) or can reach out via email for more detailed information ( as well as to arrange a virtual appointment with a student services case manager.



  • Food Bank Program


The food bank service is available to SFU students who are struggling to maintain food funds. It is only available to undergraduate students, and is still operating with strict COVID-19 measures. Details are available on the SFSS page, where a survey can also be found to process a request.



  • SFU Aboriginal Emergency Assistance Program


Students seeking funding from the Aboriginal Emergency Program will need to contact administration at the Indigenous Student Centre to learn eligibility and how to apply for the funding.



  • Food Hub (SFU x SFSS)


SFSS has recently launched a food hub for SFU students who need assistance in meeting their grocery needs. The service operates every Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the SFU Burnaby Forum Chambers: Maggie Benston Centre. To receive a free bag of food, students have to register one week in advance. For more information and to register, visit the link here



  • GSS Emergency COVID-19 Relief Fund 


The Graduate Student Society at SFU has established an Emergency COVID-19 Relief Fund for graduate students. The fund includes a transit subsidy, emergency grocery card, and family subsidy. 



  • BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program


BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program is providing temporary support for renters impacted by COVID-19 by covering part of rent payments for low and moderate income renters. Payments for those found eligible are made directly to landlords and is up to $500. The program has been available since April, but has been extended throughout July and August as well. 

To find out if you’re eligible for the program and to apply immediately, visit the BC-TRS page on the BC Housing website. 



  • Vancouver Tenants Union 


The Vancouver Tenants Union offers resources for tenants in Vancouver, including contact information for legal assistance, advocacy services, and support groups. They also provide information, news, and updates on tenancy laws and policies in the Lower Mainland. A more comprehensive list of specific resources can be found on their website. 



  • SFU C19 Coalition 


SFU C19 Coalition has a resources page on their website, like their wiki page which is regularly updated for things like student supports, healthcare and counselling, and housing and renting.  The SFU C19 Coalition also provides information on how students can receive support as SFU students.