April is a great time of year for many reasons. Spring is in the air. The sun comes up earlier and stays out later, while birds and wildlife begin to reappear from their hibernation states. We know with the Covid-19 precautions it’s been a strange time, but some students may have heard back from the post-secondary institutions of their choice. Did you get into the school of your choice? If you did, well done!
Now the big question… how are you going to pay for it? Tuition, books, residence, meal plan, bus pass, groceries? That’s a lot of bills to pay! From government loans like OSAP to scholarships and bursaries from local community organizations, there are a number of different options and places you can look to help you support funding your post secondary journey and we have some advice on where you can look for them.
Please note: This article is meant to help provide advice on places you can search for scholarships and bursaries and does not endorse any specific funding source, scholarship, bursary, etc.
What’s the difference between a scholarship, grant, bursary or loan?
Financial Aid 101: is to know the difference between scholarships, grants and bursaries and loans are. All are different types of financial assistance, most of which you won’t have to pay back, loans on the other hand, you would need to pay back. Scholarships are based on merit, while grants and bursaries take financial need into consideration. Often scholarships, grants and bursaries are also based on academic achievement, athletics, extra-curricular involvement like volunteering or clubs, or special abilities or needs.
Keep in mind, that in order to apply to scholarships and often may need to provide a transcript of your grades, a nomination from a teacher or member of the community and write a letter or essay as to why you should be considered. But remember, a few hours of work on an application could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars to help you pay for post secondary school!
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
If you’re applying for post secondary school in Ontario and you’re an Ontario resident there are a number of great options available to you through the Ontario government. Check out their site on student loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries to learn more about the specifics, but in the meantime here’s a quick summary of things you can look into further to.
Perhaps the most well-known option out there for Ontario students is the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). If you’re applying to a qualifying school in Canada and are an Ontario resident with Canadian citizenship, permanent resident or protected status, you may qualify for OSAP loans and bursaries.
There are a number of different factors that are taken into account when determining how much you qualify for, such as your parent’s income, where you’re attending and what your own work history is, which could be a factor if you’ve taken extra time to work between graduating secondary school and going to post secondary or if you’re a mature student. An easy way to determine how much scholarship money you may qualify for, you can try the OSAP Calculator on the Government of Ontario website. You can also open an account and apply for OSAP there.
University entrance scholarships
Often universities will offer scholarships when you have a certain grade average in your grade 11 and grade 12 years. This will vary by post secondary school, program of study and student need. But be sure to do your research as you may qualify! Your first step should be to check the Universities Canada website. This resource provides you with information on many universities throughout Canada and what sorts of scholarships are available. However, if you know where you’ll be attending university already, your best option is to always check what details the university’s own website has.
If you’re attending college unfortunately there isn’t a specific resource available, so be sure to check the institution you’re attending to see what they offer.
Think about what makes you unique when you apply
One thing to remember when looking for scholarships or bursaries is that you’re unique. Everyone is unique and you do your own unique things. Therefore consider what makes you unique and search for scholarships that are related to that.
Perhaps you’re involved in athletics or a member of a specific club at school? Do you volunteer in your community or in your school? Are you a person with accessibility needs? There are a number of scholarships available out there, so start looking.
There are a number of resources available below to help you find scholarships, but where can you find them?
The big scholarships
You may hear your peers talking about some of the bigger scholarships available such as the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership. This is a great scholarship opportunity worth $70,000 dollars (in 2020), which would easily pay the majority if not for all of your post secondary education. We recommend that if you’re an eligible candidate you take the time to apply.
There are also a number of other scholarships in the large-scale range such as The Loran Scholarship or the Schulich Leader Scholarships. These scholarships are all worth $60,000-$80,000 to help you pay for your post secondary education.
Keep in mind when you’re applying to these scholarships that they are highlighly competitive, so we recommend putting a lot of thought and effort into your applications.
Don’t forget about smaller scholarships!
Often students don’t know that there is a lot of funding available from smaller scholarships! A story from CBC in 2018 highlighted how millions of scholarship funds go unclaimed each year. That’s because many people don’t know about them, or want to apply for smaller amounts. Even if a scholarship is worth a few hundred dollars, think about how that could help such as paying for your books for a semester. Often the smaller scholarships will not require as much time to apply either so for a couple hours of effort could pay out big rewards!
Not sure where to look? One useful resource comes from the Student Life Network. Their tool called the 99 Scholarships lets you search for scholarships that are related to what you’re passionate about.
Upgrade your credits with OES!
Since many scholarships are based on merit, you may need to have good grades to qualify for them. Ontario eSecondary School offers a number of upgrade classes that can help you boost your grades to help apply for scholarships
Check out the below resources available online to help you in your search of finding the right scholarship or bursary to fund your post secondary education.
- The Ontario Ministry of Education and Training’s college and university portal is a great resource to find out more information about schools and funding options for Ontario Students.
- 99 Scholarships lets you search for scholarships based on what you’re passionate about.
- Scholarships Canada provides another route to do a general search for scholarships available nation-wide.
- Universities Canada is a great resource to look up scholarships that are available at a specific post secondary institution. If you already know where you’re attending college or university, do some research through Universities Canada or at that institution’s website and see what they have available for new students!
Google! Seriously. Do a search and see what is out there on your own! You never know what you may find exists and isn’t listed on other sites.