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Want to go to University?

Post secondary may seem like a daunting and expensive undertaking and while it is, there are many resources out there that become easier to find the more you look.  Ask lots of questions, talk to financial advisors at schools, and don’t give up.  There are many loop holes and people who are out there to help you find them.  Below are the basics, the beginnings of navigating through all that is financially offered to students.  Good Luck!

What are scholarships, bursaries, grants and loans?

Scholarships are a form of financial aid that do not have to be repaid and come from a variety of sources including community groups, schools and private donors.  While often based on academic achievement, scholarships are not exclusive to grades and can also be based on community involvement, athletics and even one’s passions (writing, photography, travel, etc).

Bursaries are monetary awards for students in financial need and are not necessarily awarded based on academic achievement.

Grants offer financial assistance where the student is not required to repay the amount.

Loans are financial assistance (typically from Provincial and National Governments and financial institutions) that must be repaid.

Note:  Government student loans begin repayment 6 months after graduation or at the end of studies and provide students with options if repayment is not possible that soon after graduation.   

Types of Awards

Merit Based: based on a students athletic, academic, or other abilities and tend to factor in extracurricular activities.

Need Based:  based on the student and family’s financial need

Student specific:  applicants qualify based on student specific factors such as race, gender, religion, family history etc.

Career specific:  many post-secondary institutions will have scholarships for specific faculties (Ie.  Faculty of English, Physics, or Fine Arts)

Good Places to look for Scholarships in your community

Chamber of Commerce
Volunteer organizations
Community foundations
Financial Institutions

Student Awards:

How to apply?

Each scholarships/bursary/grant likely has it’s own application process and, on our list, will have a link to where to find, download, and print one off.  Be sure to read and gather all that donors are looking for (some may request essay’s, transcripts, references, etc) by the due date and apply for all you have time for. There’s no harm in applying!

How to write an essay

  1.  Take note of what the scholarships is looking for in a successful candidate – cater to the nature of the scholarship. ie: Athletics related? Academic?  Do they want to know how many volunteer hours you have?
  2.  Writing an essay is like building a brick wall: if you leave holes all over the place, the entire structure will be weak at best.
  3.  Assume your reader knows nothing of what you are writing Explain things, elaborate, fit all the pieces together for the reader.
  4.  Be clear and uncomplicated without dumb-ing things down.
  5.  How to say what your saying is as important as What you are saying.
  6.  Have someone proofread for you – new eyes can often help greatly!


There are some great websites that can help you write scholarship letters – here’s links to a few.

Hints & Tips – things you should know before you start applying
  1. Applying to scholarships is basically asking someone for money. Remember that being polite and respectful can go along, long way!

  2. Read each application form slowly, to make sure you understand what they are looking for in a successful applicant. (Perhaps highlighting the key points would be helpful ie: community involvement, sports teams etc.)
  3. Once you know what they are looking for - tell them you have it! Accentuate your strong points and try to answer any and all questions they may have mentioned in their application form. 

  4. Double check you have everything they are asking for and then triple check. Make sure you have attached a reference letter or a personal essay if you need to. 
If you need help writing a formal essay, check out these helpful links.
  5. Search local first, regional, provincial, and then national
  6. Have your resume updated
  7. Make a list of all that apply to you – start here first then move on to those you are unsure you are eligible for
  8. Look first for all that you think you qualify for but also submit for those you are unsure you qualify for.  Often some scholarships do not get any applications and that money does not go to anyone.   If you have time apply for as many scholarships as you have time for.
  9. If you are attending a post secondary institution or volunteer program after high school check for entrance scholarships/bursaries you are eligible for.  Many universities have general application forms for scholarships/bursaries and are typically based on need.
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