Scholarships and Bursaries
The best form of financial aid for college is the grant. This is money that, unlike a loan, you never have to pay back. A scholarship or bursary is funding given to a student — both first-year and returning — based on a certain set of qualifications or criteria.
The diversity and number of different scholarships, grants and other programs available is staggering. Indeed, Canadian scholarship sources are so plentiful (and sometimes so obscure), that many scholarships go unused each year. If your high-school grades are very high, your chance of snagging some merit-based assistance is also high. Even if you don't have the best grades, you still might be eligible for this kind of help.
Criteria for Earning Aid
Scholarships and bursaries are also awarded because of demonstrated:
- Academic performance
- Financial need
- Athletic prowess
- Extracurricular activities
Research Aid Online
In addition to schools themselves, scholarships come from a range of other sources, including private companies, parents' employers, the government, religious groups, cultural groups and social groups. Do your research. There is lots of help available in tracking down possible funding sources, from your high school guidance counsellor, university/college financial aid offices, and your parents too.
You can also do a lot of digging online. Most colleges and universities have an "awards" or "funding" link on their websites. There are also online databases of scholarship and bursaries you can use to seek out funding you may be eligible for. A good place to start is The CanLearn Interactive Scholarship Search at www.studentawards.com. The site is a collaboration between the federal government's CanLearn (www.canlearn.ca) program and Studentawards.com.