Part 3: Finding Scholarships

Postsecondary education can be expensive. Tuition for undergraduate programs for Canadian fulltime students was, on average, $6,571 in 2017 / 2018. And if you choose to live in residence, the cost of going to university or college rises substantially. For example, if you live in residence at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo campus), it will cost $4,941–$7,955 depending on the type of residence. Add to that other costs such as books, meal plans, incidental fees, etc. and the yearly cost of attending university (if not living at home) can cost up to $20,000+!

To help first-year students cover the costs of postsecondary education, colleges and universities provide non-repayable financial assistance to their incoming students in the form of scholarships, bursaries, and other awards. Below is a list of what may be offered at universities and/or colleges:

Entrance scholarships: Generally, students are automatically considered for these awards on the basis of their academic average when they apply to the school. You do not have to apply for these scholarships.

Major admissions / prestigious awards: Students apply for these awards in separate applications or with one single application. Or they may need to submit a Student Profile. These awards are given based mainly on academic excellence. However, leadership, community involvement, financial need, or other factors may also be considered. And just a tip: even if your student hasn’t received an offer of admission, she can still apply for the scholarships offered at her chosen place of study. Many of the deadline dates for these scholarships are early in the year so don’t miss out on potential aid!

Bursaries / Grants: This type of financial assistance is awarded based mainly on a student’s financial need; there may be other considerations as well. You will most likely be asked to submit detailed financial information.

Other awards: Some universities and colleges maintain a list of external awards — awards given by outside organizations and companies (not given by the university). Many universities or colleges list these awards (usually alphabetically) on their website, e.g., Queen’s University External Awards page. It is up to you to research the awards individually.

**Offer of Admission: When a student does receive an Offer of Admission, they may also receive information on the financial aid offered at the school, as well as details on additional bursaries or scholarships available to them once they are enrolled in the school. Read your letter carefully.

Please note: A student must notify the Student Financial Services office at their school if they receive any awards, bursaries, or scholarships. It could impact any government funding (Student Loans or Grants) they may receive. For example, in Ontario, it could impact their OSAP assessment. After notifying the school of any scholarships, awards, etc., received, regularly check your OSAP account for updates.

Other ideas:

Besides non-repayable financial assistance, there may also be work-study programs offered at your place of study that will help you finance your education, e.g., see University of Ottawa’s work-study program. This money is not free – it is paid work!

Contact the Student Awards / Financial Aid office or website (see “Future Students”) of the universities / colleges you are applying to. Tell them you are looking for additional financial aid.

Consider attending Open Houses that colleges and universities offer during March Break and in the upcoming semester and attend the financial aid presentations they offer.

Financial aid isn’t the ONLY thing to think about when choosing where to attend college or university, but it IS an important factor to consider!