How to Reach the HRSDC Call Centre

Sometimes people need help or advice they can't get from their student loan lender. But if that happens -- and it relates to a Canada Student Loan -- you should be able to get good information from the HRSDC call centre. 

The HRSDC call centre usually has knowledgeable staff who can help you if you're confused. That's because HRSDC is the government department that runs the Canada Student Loans program.

If you have a loan with the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) these days, you probably find them more reliable now than in their early years.

But if you can't get clear information or assistance from the NSLSC phone clerk or supervisor, ask them to put you through to that HRSDC call centre.  

The HRSDC call centre can also help you if you no longer have a loan with NSLSC because you missed payments and defaulted.

Even if you're being chased by collections agents, the NSLSC can put you through to the HRSDC call centre. Then you can discuss your options, such as getting your loan back to good standing if you might be eligible for loan repayment aid such as RAP.

Just be sure you're calling within the HRSDC time limits listed at the bottom of this page. Otherwise, you'll go through the whole NSLSC phone process for nothing. 

Why call the HRSDC?

Many people with student loans have problems getting clear and correct information from student loan service bureaus, no matter who is running them.

As a for-profit service, NSLSC apparently wants its staff to give assistance very quickly.  According to the CSLP Client Satisfaction Survey (March 2007), only 34% of borrowers are satisfied with the overall result. However, the NSLSC contract will continue for years.

The NSLSC is managed by a private company (Resolve, which is now owned by D+H, aka Davis and Henderson). This company's contract is with HRSDC's Canada Student Loans Program.

Policy and rules for student loan programs start with the HRSDC, since it controls the Canada Student Loans Program. So if the NSLSC can't help you, you'll go to a higher step on the ladder by contacting the HRSDC.

And what if the HRSDC clerk also can't answer your question? Ask for an HRSDC supervisor.

What if your loan is not with the NSLSC?

Again, you'll need to talk with the HRSDC call centre. If you don't have a current loan with the NSLSC (because your loan is the risk-shared type, for example), the NSLSC normally won't answer questions about even the basic rules of aid programs.

That's because its service contract only covers Canada Student loans issued after August 1, 2000.

Other lenders, such as banks, are supposed to handle their own (earlier) categories of Canada student loans, such as risk-shared loans. But many people with risk-shared loans and other older loans have trouble getting the information they need, since they are shut out of the provincial and national loan service centres.

Even if you had a loan with the NSLSC before, they'll normally stop helping you once your NSLSC loan is paid off.

However, if your other lender doesn't give the assistance you need, you can still get help by reaching the HRSDC call centre through the NSLSC call centre.

So all that is the good news. The bad news is that it will take time.

It would be easier if you could call HRSDC directly. But at writing, HRSDC is not giving out its call centre phone number. The NSLSC will also not usually give this number, but they'll patch you through.

That's why you first call the NSLSC:

Toll free: 1-888 815-4514 (within North America)
  1-800 2 225-2501 (outside North America)

Once your turn comes, you must give the usual security information you give your lender – (your SIN, address, etcetera) – even though you have no loan with them. Normally, it's only after they go through all this security screening that NSLSC clerks will patch you through to the HRSDC call centre.

Sometimes, however, you can speed this by punching your SIN and # key in by phone buttons as requested and then explaining – when you get an agent – that you're trying to contact the HRSDC call centre and it's about to close. Obviously, this only applies if it really is about to close! Check the hours below. The operation hours of the HRSDC Call Centre are much more restricted than NSLSC hours.

HRSDC Call Centre Hours

The HRSDC call centre hours are Monday-Friday only, from 8 am until 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. But they usually stop taking calls at 4:45 EST. Of course, this is earlier in the West. On top of that, you should leave a half-hour in case things go slowly at NSLSC.

So if you're calling from the west coast, for example, don't try to reach HRSDC's call centre after 1:15 pm.

Finally, what if you get nowhere seeking help from the HRSDC Call Centre?

In that case, see: Who To Contact for Help