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:
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.
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!