Canadian Emergency Student Benefits

Canadian Emergency Student Benefits

Written by Nathan Barnett, VP of University Affairs at Trent Durham Student Association. 

Updated May 14th, 2020


What is CESB?

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.


When can I apply for CESB?

Applications for the first period open May 15, 2020.


What does CESB entail?

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.


What are the four periods?

May 10 - June 6, 2020

June 7 - July 4, 2020

July 5 - August 1, 2020

August 2 - August 29, 2020


Am I eligible?

You must be either a:

  • Canadian citizen (including dual citizen);
  • Registered Indian under the Indian Act;
  • Permanent resident; or
  • Protected person.


Additionally, you must meet one of the three 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.


Finally, you must fall in one of these 3 categories:

  • A student who graduated NO EARLIER THAN December 2019
  • A high school student who has graduated OR will be graduating in 2020. To meet this requirement, you must have applied to post-secondary AND intend to begin before February 1, 2021.
    1. Under this category, you will only qualify for the periods in which you are not in high school. For example, if you finish high school after June 7th, you will only qualify for the July 5 - August 1 and August 2 - 29 payment periods.


What do they mean by “looking for work”?

While the government is not currently asking for documentation/”proof” that you are looking for work, they may ask at a later date in order to confirm your eligibility for CESB. They suggest using the Canadian Job Bank ( ) in order to keep track of the places you’ve applied to.


I’m getting CERB/EI, do I qualify?

No, you can only qualify for one at a time: CERB or EI or CESB.


What is included in the eligibility requirement that I earn less than $1000 per four-week period?

  • Income
  • Tips
  • Honourariums



What is NOT included in the eligibility requirement that I earn less than $1000 per four-week period?

  • Family/spouse income
  • Scholarships and bursaries
  • Student grants and loans
  • Graduate stipends
  • Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) funding


How do I apply?

You can apply on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.


I don’t have a CRA account OR I’ve never filed a Canadian tax return, what do I do?

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.


What do I need to apply?

Your social insurance number (SIN). You do not currently need documentation; however, you may be asked for it at a later date.


Can I apply for every four-week period at once?

No. You can only apply for the period that you are currently in. For example, when it opens on May 15th, you can only apply for the May 10 - June 7, 2020 period.


If I qualify for one period, will I qualify for all periods?

Not necessarily. When you reapply for the next pay period, you must still meet all the criteria. For example, if you have found a job and will earn more than $1000 in the relevant four-week period, you will no longer qualify for CESB.


Do I need to be in Canada right now to receive CESB?



When can I apply for CESB?

Everyone, regardless of birth month, can apply for the first period starting May 15, 2020. For the following periods, application days will be split up by birth month. For example, in the June 7 -July 4 period, the application days are as follows:

  • If you were born January-March, the earliest you can apply is Monday, June 8, 2020
  • If you were born April-June, the earliest you can apply is Tuesday, June 9, 2020
  • If you were born July-September, the earliest you can apply is Wednesday, June 10, 2020
  • If you were born October-December, the earliest you can apply is Thursday, June 11, 2020


I’ve applied and it says I can receive CESB. Now what?

If you have your direct deposit information on file, the CRA will deposit your payment within 3 days of applying.

If you prefer to have a cheque mailed to you, it should arrive within 10 days of applying.


Where can I find more information about CESB?

This website has a checklist that you can use to check your eligibility:


This website has all the background information on CESB: