There tends to be a lot of confusion between the different terms used to describe student funding opportunities. To be fair, this is because many organizations use the terms interchangeably, which means there isn’t necessarily one simple definition for each. In this blog, I am going to run through some of the basic requirements you often see in each of the categories to help differentiate between award types. However, be aware that there isn’t one definition and there are many different ways to describe the different types of funding that are available to students.
Scholarships are the most popular type of student funding because it is free money that is awarded based on a specific merit. This could be academic merit such as entrance scholarships or your overall GPA. However, it could also be based on other merits such as leadership, sports or volunteer to name a few. The term scholarship has changed drastically over time and many organizations will use the term generously as a way to describe money that will go towards education in some capacity. Some scholarships may be awarded automatically, whereas other scholarships may be awarded based on an application, which requires more information. In some cases, you also may have to include a transcript, resume, cover letter or references in order to complete the scholarship application. Some scholarships may also take financial need into consideration depending on the award.
Bursaries and Grants
Bursaries and grants are typically given out based on some degree of financial need. However, the actual level of financial need required will vary based on the organization and application itself. You shouldn’t assume that if something is called a bursary or grant that you won’t qualify because you don’t have a high enough “financial need.” Sometimes a bursary or grant application will simply require you to show that your expenses are higher than your income and others might have a more detailed equation to determine financial need. There are even some awards that are called bursary or grant applications but don’t always have a financial need requirement. Application requirements can also vary based on the grant or bursary itself. Some applications will strictly look at financial need, while others will consider many factors such as volunteer or extra-curricular activities.
Loans can be described as borrowed money that will have to be repaid later on with interest. Many students try to stay away from loans and focus on scholarships and grants because they don’t want to borrow money. This is completely fair and your first choice should always be non-repayable free money. However, if you do take out a loan that is absolutely fine as long as you manage it appropriately. The requirements of a loan generally factor in financial need as the main criteria. There are various types of loans for students including student loans or student lines of credit. I personally prefer student loans because you will have zero interest charged until you graduate or stop attending school.
Keep in mind: Just because a group calls an award a scholarship, bursary or grant, it doesn’t mean that it will have the requirements you see above. Like I said at the beginning, the terms for types of student awards are often used interchangeably, which means that some bursaries or grants may not actually require a large financial need and not all scholarships will be based solely on merit. Make sure you take a very close look at the individual requirements of each application to fully understand what is required in order for you to qualify. Some scholarships and awards are even flexible on the requirements they have put forth if they don’t have enough applicants. If you don’t meet all of the requirements exactly it may be worth asking if you can still apply.
The number of scholarships that are available to students each year is continuing to grow. I have created five tips that can be used as a guide to help you begin the search for scholarships in 2018, so that you can take advantage of the free money that is available to you. Here are five ways that you can make your scholarship search easier in 2018:
Many students run into financial troubles once they get into post-secondary and get hit with some major bills. It is easy in high-school to ignore the costs associated with post-secondary education, but we are here to tell you that the last thing that you want to do is ignore those costs. There are thousands of high school scholarships available in Canada each year and many of these scholarships go unclaimed.
Here are five reasons on why it is important to look for scholarships in high school:
1. Understanding the Cost of University
One of the most beneficial aspects of looking for scholarships in high-school is that you are able to get a clear understanding of how much your post-secondary education is going to cost you each year. It is a good idea to look at the costs associated with your post-secondary institution and create a budget worksheet before you begin your scholarship search. Get a step ahead of most high school students by knowing the costs of your schooling and creating a financial plan.
2. You May be More Involved in Extra-Curricular Activities
Many post-secondary students say that they have much less time to commit to extra-curricular activities and volunteer than they did in high school. It is a good idea to take advantage of the volunteer and extra-curricular activities that you have built up over the years and put that into your scholarship applications. One of the main criteria for many scholarships is your commitment to extra-curricular activities. Scholarship committees are looking for well-rounded students and high-school students have more time to ensure that their resume is full.
3. There Are Specific Entrance Scholarships Available at Each University
I recently wrote another article that highlighted some of the best entrance scholarships at specific universities. However, almost every school will offer some sort of entrance scholarships that are available for high-school students to apply to when they are entering post-secondary. Entrance awards are something that can only be applied for in the first year that you apply to the university; therefore, you do not want to miss out on those opportunities.
4. How To Access Scholarships That Aren’t Available to Current Post-Secondary Students
Scholarship committees LOVE to give out scholarships and awards to grade 12 students to help ease the transition into post-secondary school. There are more grade 12 scholarships available than any other age group or category and once you get into university the scholarship opportunities are more limited. Take advantage of the scholarships that were designed for Grade 12 students as there is no better time to win scholarships. It is also very likely that you have more time in Grade 12 to apply then you will when you get to post-secondary so if you do the work now you can save yourself a lot of time down the road.
5. Setting Yourself Up for Financial Success
Did you know it is possible to get your entire education paid for in Grade 12? There are some major awards that will pay for an entire four-year degree as well as housing costs. These awards are highly competitive, but there are thousands of other awards that can put a good dent in the cost of your education before you even get to university. Set yourself up for financial success by accessing the millions of dollars that are available to current high school students.
Hopefully this has convinced you to put in the time and effort that it takes to complete scholarship applications or has at least got you thinking about what scholarships might be out there for you. If you are interested in learning more you can head to our high school page for more information!
Universities are one of the easiest ways to begin your scholarship search. Many high-school students often ask me what type of scholarships and awards are available at what schools, so I compiled a list of eight universities and took a look at some of the scholarships and awards that they each offer. Here is an overview of some of the entrance scholarships and awards available at some of the major schools in Canada:
University of British Columbia
The UBC Centennial Scholars Entrance Award program:
This program is designed to support students transitioning from high-school and other post-secondary institutions to UBC. You must meet specific academic requirements, be interested in contributing to the UBC community, and require financial assistance in order to attend post-secondary.
The Major Entrance Scholarship (MES) program:
Offers a one-time award of approximately $5,000 and renewable awards of up to $60,000 over your four years. These scholarships are designed for the top students entering post-secondary and are highly competitive. It requires academic excellence and leadership achievements in the arts, community, athletics, and school.
Simon Fraser University
Undergraduate Scholars Entrance Award:
SFU recognizes high school students who demonstrate excellence in both their academic and extracurricular activities. The value of an award can range from $10,000 up to an amount sufficient to cover all tuition and mandatory supplementary fees that are required in the first year of your undergraduate program.
Kenneth E Mackenzie Annual Entrance Scholarship
Sigma Chi Leadership Entrance Scholarship
Rajan Family Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship
Joseph Lee Family Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship
Lloyd Carr-Harris Entrance Scholarship
Community Entrance Award
City of Surrey Memorial Employee Entrance Award
Edoye Porbeni Service Equals Success Entrance Award
Surrey Close to Home Entrance Award
University of Toronto
U of T has a wide range of entrance awards available. There are over 3,600 undergraduate admission scholarships that the University of Toronto makes available each year to students.
Eligible high school students are automatically considered for a variety of admission scholarships when they apply to the university. Awards and cut-offs vary by campus, faculty and college.
The University of Toronto Scholars Program:
Provides recognition to the University’s outstanding students, at admission and on an on-going basis. There are approximately 700 admission awards which have a value of $7,500.
President’s Scholars of Excellence:
Approximately 75 of the most highly qualified students applying to first year of direct entry, undergraduate studies will be chosen. They will receive a $10,000 entrance scholarship in their first year of studies; guaranteed access to part-time, meaningful, on-campus employment in second year; and guaranteed access to an international learning opportunity during their U of T experience.
There are also admission scholarships that require a separate application, and others that require you to complete an awards profile.
Students who demonstrate academic excellence, creativity, involvement in school or community activities, and exemplary leadership can apply for a Queen’s major admission award. Financial need is also a consideration for some of our major admission awards.
Here are a few awards:
Chernoff Family Award
Chernoff Family Award (Quebec)
Dr. Iris May Marsh Memorial Award
Bank of Montreal Award
D & R Sobey Atlantic Scholarship
Melvin R. Goodes Entrance Award
McGill's Scholarships and Student Aid Office offers merit-based entrance scholarships to first-time university students entering a full-time undergraduate degree program.
There are two types of centrally-administered entrance scholarships:
One-year Scholarships, valued at $3,000 (non-renewable)
Major Scholarships, valued between $3,000 and $12,000 (renewable annually up to 4 years provided criteria for renewal are met)
Many automatic scholarships are awarded based on your admissions average at the time of your application:
95%+ (42-45 IB diploma points) — $3,500 (renewable for 3 additional years)*
90-94.9% (36-41 IB diploma points) — $2,000
85-89.9% (33-35 IB diploma points) — $1,000
80-84.9% (30-32 IB diploma points) — $500
Student Life Award
Chancellor Cory Entrance Scholarships
Western’s Admission Scholarships are unlimited and automatically awarded upon admission to Western. No application is required to be considered for these scholarships.
Needs based awards are determined by academic merit, financial need and sometimes extra-curricular activities. National Scholarships are designed to recognize all-round excellence. They are awarded on the basis of academic excellence to candidates who demonstrate ability for creative and innovative thought and a passion for the pursuit of learning. National Scholarships also recognize exceptional achievement in extracurricular activities such as the arts and athletics. A special emphasis is placed on a candidate's commitment to community service through ongoing contributions to school and community life.
President’s Entrance Scholarships:
5 at $65,000 ($20,000 for year one, $15,000 annually for years two to four) and;
Up to 15 at $50,000 ($10,000 annually, plus $10,000 towards first year residence)
Beryl Ivey Continuing Entrance Award:
ONE at $64,000; payable $16,000 per academic year for a period of four years.
International President's Entrance Scholarships:
3 at $50,000 ($10,000 annually, plus $10,000 towards first year residence costs)
Faculty Entrance Scholarships:
Up to 15 at $30,000 ($6,000 annually, plus $6,000 towards first year residence)
University of Alberta
U of A gives out $28 million each year in scholarships, awards and financial support for students. Here are a few scholarships available to new students:
Academic and Leadership Scholarships
Value: up to $6,000
Automatic consideration — no application required
Scholastic Distinction Scholarship
Value: up to $50,000
Entrance leadership Scholarships
Value: up to $7,500
Note: This information has been provided by the website of each school and is subject to change at any time. For all of these universities I have only highlighted some of the scholarships and awards that are available. I recommend referring to each school’s website directly to find out more information regarding scholarships, eligibility and any changes that may occur.
For many students, the scholarship process can be extremely daunting. Students find it challenging to know where to begin their scholarship search, which is why many Canadian scholarships go unclaimed. Here are five simple steps to help you begin your scholarship search:
These five steps are the easiest way to kick start your search for Canadian scholarships and stay organized throughout the process. Once you take the first step and get started it becomes a lot easier and you will have success! Get started today and contact GrantMe!
These days, getting an undergraduate degree is as basic as getting a high school diploma. However, paying for post-secondary education is a whole other issue. It is expected that in Canada, tuition fees will rise 2.5 percent above inflation each year for the next 25 years. This means that in 2035 tuition will be sitting close to $20,000. With student debt currently averaging just above $25,000 for Canadians, it is clear it is only going to get worse before it gets better.
My goal is to reach high-school students before they enter university so that they can take the necessary (and often unknown) steps to avoid this kind of debt completely. In the meantime, I know there are many current university students who are already sitting in huge debt. I currently work with many students who already have $50,000+ in student loan debt. I even work with some adults in their 30’s and 40’s who are still working to pay down student debt.
Why is student debt a major issue for graduates and for the Canadian economy?
How is the government trying to help?
Although the government has some solutions available for student debt in Canada, student debt still sits at over $15 Billion.
What can graduates do to get out of such debt?
The student debt problem isn’t going away anytime soon in Canada. In fact, it is only going to get worse. Debt will continue to rise as tuition and housing costs increase and we will continue to see the negative impact on the economy. That isn't to stay that student loans are always a bad thing. If students take out loans and use them in a smart and responsible way, there can be many benefits to having a loan.
This is why it is critical that high-school students are educated on their financial options before entering post-secondary. Post-secondary student’s should create a carefully designed budget and access all scholarship and awards in order to avoid having loans run your life!
By the time students start school in September, they have limited time to think about the ways in which they could save a few bucks. In fact, many students often don’t think about their finances at all. However, there are many tips and tricks that I used in college that saved me over $6000 in my five years. If you follow these tips, you could save yourself a year's worth of tuition. The best part is they are so simple!
1. RENT YOUR TEXTBOOKS
The cost of textbooks in university is astronomical. Students are often paying $100-$300 per book. Textbook costs for a student can total over $7500 throughout an undergraduate degree. Instead of buying textbooks, I used to rent them. Every semester I would head to the library before classes even started to make sure I got a copy. It saved me thousands of dollars and if you can’t find the textbook at your university just head to your city library! It also saves you the headache of selling the books after your course.
2. OPT OUT OF HEALTH COVERAGE
Most students receive medical and dental coverage through their university as a student. This cost is approximately $200-$300 a year that automatically gets added to student fees. However, most students are actually covered by their parent’s medical while they are a student. There is zero need for double coverage so if you are covered by your parents then I recommend opting out of university coverage and saving yourself $1000 over the course of university.
3. LIVE AT HOME OR OFF CAMPUS
Campus housing is ridiculously expensive. Particularly as a first-year, because you automatically have to opt in to the meal plan at some schools. First year residence can cost over $10,000. If you live slightly off campus you can cut your living expenses in half! The great thing about being a student is that you some schools give you a discounted bus pass that automatically comes with your school fees.
4. STUDENT DISCOUNTS
Always ask for a student discount! Many places offer discounts to students. Most gyms, cable companies, phone companies, restaurants and retail stores have discounts of up to 25% off that aren’t necessarily being advertised. If you don’t know, just ask!
5. CUT THE COFFEE
For a while, I had a terrible habit of buying a coffee every day at school. Spending $2.50 on a coffee may seem insignificant. But when you add up those costs over a month it can end up costing more than your phone bill. Buying a coffee maker could save you $750 over the course of a year. Obviously, I am not speaking strictly coffee. Whatever your indulgence may be, try to find a cheaper option.
I have been getting a lot of questions regarding student loans and I thought I would go over some basics! I have been asked questions such as how they work, how risky they are, how easy they are to get etc. So I thought I would take some time to write a blog post about them.
I will start by saying that contrary to what many parents/students think, student loans can be positive. Why do I say this? Well not only is it money that just sits in your bank with no interest to pay on it while in school, it also opens up many opportunities for funding from outside sources. Let me tell you a bit about what I did:
I decided in my fourth year of university I was going to go onto exchange to the University of Edinburgh. However, I was a little concerned about how much it would cost and my parents said that if I wanted to do it, I was responsible to save up the money to go. Although I made quite a bit of money in the summer, I wanted to be able to travel and I needed a safety net in order to do that. That was the point when I started looking into student loans. Prior to my fourth year, student loans weren’t even on my radar because I had been pretty successful with other scholarships and awards.
I got approved for a loan in my fourth year for something like $12,000. I had no intention of ever spending that money, but I wanted it just in case. So I put the money in a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) and let it earn interest. Little did I know, that by taking out a student loan, I suddenly qualified for many other scholarships and awards because I was in “financial need.” By the time I actually left to the UK, I had done over $10,000 in scholarships solely due to the fact that I had a student loan. There is a lot more funding for people who are in “financial need,” which is something I wish I had known in my first year.
Now that isn’t to say that there isn’t some negatives to student loans. Student loans can be difficult to access straight out of high-school because students often fall under their parents income regardless of how much their parents can actually contribute. Taking out a student loan requires you to have a certain degree of financial literacy. For some students, when they see $30,000 sitting in their back account, I am sure their instinct is to buy whatever they want. I was very diligent in making sure that I didn’t touch it (and luckily I didn’t need to). As a student you have to remember that a loan is still repayable. However, all of the wonderful scholarships and awards you may receive because of the loan won’t be repayable :)
With the recent Bell Let’s Talk initiative, I thought it was important for me to write my first blog post about financial stress and mental illness.
First off, it is so important to provide a platform for those dealing with any type of mental illness and to end the existing stigma that is associated with mental illness. We need to be there for each other and support one another so that nobody faces a mental illness alone.
The entire Bell Let’s Talk campaign has got me thinking a lot about what might cause mental illness and some of the struggles faced by students with mental illness. A big part of the reason that I started GrantMe is because many students are faced with high levels of financial stress. Studies show that students leaving post-secondary school with huge amounts of student debt are likely to have poor mental health upon graduation. Similarly, first year students coming into university who face financial stress among the many other stresses of university, are also more likely to face mental health issues throughout university.
Although many universities have attempted to solve these problems by giving access to resources for mental health, it is equally important that students are equipped with the financial education required to make the university experience less stressful. This is where I believe there is room for improvement. Many resources and tools are available to students in order to help them pay for school, but they are difficult to navigate and are often not directly promoted by the university.
Many students faced with a high degree of financial stress are suffering silently. Nobody wants to tell there friends that they are struggling to eat and pay rent because they are scared of what others might think about them. That sort of stigma is why many students aren’t able to get the required help they need. I can’t reiterate enough the importance of speaking up and supporting one another on all mental health issues. Although Bell Let’s Talk is a one-day initiative, the conversation around mental health is not.
I encourage everyone to take an active role in asking your friends, family, coworkers and even a stranger how they are doing. It seems so simple, but it could be saving a life. Lastly, if anyone is facing financial stress, or any other type of stress for that matter, I AM HERE FOR YOU, TO LISTEN AND HELP. So no matter what you are facing, always feel free to reach out to me.