The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is your national and provincial students’ union, representing over 500,000 college and university students across the country.

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is your national and provincial students’ union, representing over 500,000 college and university students across the country.


I commit to maintaining my membership in the Canadian Federation of Students and my students’ union.

Work of the CFS

The CFS is Canada’s oldest and largest national students’ union with over 500,000 members across the country. Through our strength in numbers, we are able to lobby the provincial and federal governments and advocate for an accessible and affordable post-secondary education, create and carry out advocacy and awareness campaigns and provide cost-saving programs and services. CFS works on a variety of social equity issues such as combatting sexual violence, fairness for international students, making mental health services more diverse and accessible and challenging systems of oppression that manifest on our campuses. The CFS offers cost saving, ethical services such as the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), free tax filing through UFile, sexual health products and more.  

Victories of the CFS

Together, through the CFS, students have successfully lobbied for:

  • Decreased interest rates on Federal student loans
  • Mandated Ontario campuses to have a sexual assault policy, training, prevention programs and support services
  • Secured more grants and 0% interest for six months on provincial student loan in 2016
  • Lobbied for an increase of  $114 million over 5 years for Canadian Graduate Scholarships
  • Won the right for international students to work off campus and qualify for a three-year work permit after graduation 
  • Secured $800 million for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program to support Indigenous learners
  • Created more study space and space for marginalized groups on campus
  • Ended the sale of single use water bottles at 30+ campuses
  • Won Fall Reading Weeks on many campuses across Ontario
  • An additional $6 million annually over the next three years to assist colleges and universities in providing mental health services and supports for students, bringing the total amount of mental health funding to $15 million a year.
  • $90 million in funding for Indigenous learners in the 2017 Federal Budget
  • Improvements to Canada Students Grants for part-time students and adult learners with dependent children

For a full list of victories please visit:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I maintain my membership in the CFS?

The CFS can effectively organize, advocate and win victories for students on a local, provincial and national level.

Currently, students are seeing many cuts to past victories and direct attacks on student groups and campus life. Now more than ever, students need a national and provincial students’ union to fight back.

By maintaining your membership in the CFS, you can:

  • Connect with graduate and undergraduate, college and university students across the province and country
  • Have a Recognized and Effective Student Voice on Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park
  • Fight for Free Education and Students’ Rights
  • Receive a FREE ISIC discount card and other Cost-Saving Services
  •  Advocate for Fairness for International Students
  • Be part of an effective NATIONAL Student Movement

What do students receive by paying $8.56 per semester to be a member of the CFS?
With membership dues of $8.56* per semester, you have access to:

  • A free ISIC Discount card with over 2,000 discounts a year, saving you $20.00 
  • Free tax filing services with UFile, saving you $19.95
  • Priceless savings through effective government lobbying and advocacy
  • Networking, job and volunteer opportunities
  • National and provincial representation on various government committees and roundtables

*Membership dues are pro-rated for part-time students.

What does the CFS use membership dues for?

In 1981 when the CFS was founded, students decided to pool financial resources together in order to provide cost-saving services and advocacy on a local, provincial and federal level.

To date, the CFS collects membership dues to provide members and students’ unions with services like the free International Student Identity Card (ISIC) discount card, ethical bulk-purchasing, free tax filing and more.

In addition, the CFS uses membership dues to help support comprehensive campaign strategies that include communications, research, caucus-specific advocacy, coalition work and membership development. 

Please read our Annual Report to find a full overview of the past year. 

What do “essential” and “non-essential” fees mean?
Without consulting students, the Ontario government categorized various student services and groups into “essential” and “non-essential” fees.  Essential fees are mandatory and will be automatically charged to your invoice as an ancillary fee. Non-essential fees are those that students can opt-out of. For some institutions, you opt-out by unchecking a box on your invoice. For other institutions, you opt-out by checking a box on your invoice.  If you do not opt-out, the fee will be charged to your account. The CFS believes that all student ancillary fees are essential because they provide support and a holistic approach to post-secondary education. The CFS encourages you to continue opting into all your student ancillary fees.
Am I allowed to opt back in after the opt-out period ends?
The opt-outs will occur semesterly so you may opt-back in for the Winter semester. Check with your institution if and when this is possible.
How was the CFS levy created?
In 1981, students collectively decided to pool financial resources together in order to provide cost saving services and educational campaigns. Students who were interested in joining the CFS had to run a referendum (a vote of the general membership) on their campus in order to join and collect membership dues from each student.  Currently, the referendum process to join the CFS includes:

  1. A petition collection of 15% of the student population to initiate a vote.
  2. A vote during the fall or winter academic term.
  3. At least 10% quorum, which is the minimum number of votes that must be cast for the election to be valid.
  4. To join the CFS, the outcome of the vote must have a simple majority “in favour” of joining.

Visit to read more about the process to join the CFS. Each campus that joins is assigned a number based on when they joined the Federation. For example, Carleton University Students Union (CUSA) is Local 1 because they are the first group to join the CFS. Our most recent local is Local 114, l’Université d’Hearst. If you are a member of the CFS, find your local number here:

What services does the CFS provide?
The CFS operates services to save you time and money. We also run services that save your students’ union money so that more funds can go to support campus groups, events and local services. Some of the CFS’ services include:

  • A free ISIC card with +2,000 discounts in 130 countries including Apple, Amazon, David’s Tea, and many more;
  • Free tax filing via UFile anytime throughout the year;
  • Ethically produced and sourced handbooks and day planners;
  • The Ethical Purchasing Network, which gives student groups and clubs the ability to bulk purchase ethically produced materials like water bottles, shirts and stationary at a reasonable price; and
  • The only non-profit National Student Health Network in Canada which provide health and dental coverage for students and their dependents.

To find out more about CFS services please visit or email

What campaigns does the CFS run?
The CFS runs various campaigns to advocate for greater access to education. These campaigns take form as educational campaigns that raise awareness about an issue or mobilization campaigns that incorporate student participation and action to get results. Some of the campaigns include:

  • We The Students
  • Fight The Fees
  • Consent is Mandatory
  • Fairness for International Students
  • Access to Education for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students
  • United For Equity

For a full list of CFS campaigns please visit

How are decisions made at the CFS?
Each student association has an equal say in setting the policies, campaigns, services, direction and priorities of the CFS. All major decisions are made at National and Provincial General Meetings. During these meetings, delegates can submit motions, meet in various consistency and caucuses based on their identity and institution and work with students from across the province and country. This body also elects the provincial and national elected representatives as well as representatives for the National Circle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students, Racialized Students’, Women’s representative, among others.
Why and how does the CFS takes political stances on certain issues?

The CFS has a long history of taking political stances on issues that impact students because it is understood that students live multi-dimensional lives wherein local and world issues impact their access to education.

As such, these stances are decided upon at Annual General Meetings, which is the highest decision-making body. Each year, member locals send a delegation of elected representatives, to attend and vote. Delegates submit motions, discuss issues and vote on priorities related to budgeting, campaigns, services and operations of the organization.



Historically, issues related to free education, fossil fuel divestment, anti-war advocacy and indigenous rights have all been discussed and voted upon at General Meetings.

Where is the CFS Office located?

The Ontario office is located at 225 Richmond Street West, M5V 1W2, Toronto, ON. The office is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:30pm. To contact the Ontario office directly, please call (416)-925-3825 or email

The National office is located at 338c Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9. The office is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. To contact the National office directly, please call (613)-232-7394 or email

Got more questions? Please email so that we can be of assistance.