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How to get scholarships and grants for post-secondary education

Financing your education

Tuition costs are rising and many students can’t rely entirely on the Bank of Mom and Dad to get them through college or university. The good news: there are plenty of scholarships and grants available. And you don’t even have to be a genius or a saint to get them.

Read on for tips on how to access various forms of financial aid that can help you get through school without taking on gargantuan loans.

  1. Take advantage of the government’s generosity

    The Canada Student Loans and Grants program provides eligible full- and part-time post-secondary students in most provinces and territories with non-repayable grants and repayable loans to help them fund their education. Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut offer their own student financial assistance programs. Many provinces offer provincial assistance as well. In Ontario, for example, as of the 2017-18 school year, if your parents earn less than $50,000 you may be  eligible to receive enough grant money to cover tuition costs, as well as books and some living expenses. To find out what’s available, just Google “student aid,” and the name of your province.

  2. Ask and you just may receive 

    Colleges and universities may also offer admission bursaries based on financial need and potentially other factors, such as your contributions to the community or involvement in extracurricular activities. To find out more, contact the college or university’s Financial Aid or Student Awards office.

  3. Scholarships aren’t just for brainiacs

    Think you don’t have the grades to snag a scholarship? Think again. Websites like ScholarshipsCanada list more than 80,000 awards and most don’t require you to submit your academic records or to be in financial need. Some are reserved for people with specific interests; who are pursuing a specific field of study; or come from a particular ethnic or social background. Others require a connection to some kind of organization, such as a company, a non-profit or a church. At Foresters Financial, for example, eligible members and their kids, grandkids and children under their legal care can apply for scholarships worth up to $2,000 per year in Canada.* To qualify, you need to have at least 40 hours of community service under your belt and a minimum GPA of 2.8 or 70 percent.

    Learn More: Foresters Financial Grants and Scholarships (Canada)

  4. Loyalty points 

    At you (or a family member) can convert loyalty points from Aeroplan, Aventura or TD Travel Rewards into education credits to pay tuition.

  5. The we-want-you bonus 

    Some universities and colleges offer ‘entrance scholarships’ to reduce or eliminate tuition fees. Frequently, you don’t even have to apply for them; however, you will need high marks. That said, it will be worth your while to put in the extra work needed to qualify. Want examples? At Lakehead University, which has campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ontario, you’ll get free tuition if you come out of high school with a 95 percent-plus average. This scholarship is renewable yearly as long as you maintain at least 90 percent in university. At the University of Victoria, students with an average of 85 percent-plus are eligible for non-renewable entrance scholarships of $1,500 to $2,500 each. Furthermore, academically outstanding new students can apply for renewable scholarships of up to $26,000 payable over four years.

  6. Opt for a co-op

    Many Canadian universities and colleges offer co-operative education programs for two excellent reasons. First, they offer invaluable hands-on experience. And second, they help you pay part of the cost of your education.Basically, a co-op program alternates periods of schooling with work terms for which you get paid. You get a chance to figure out how things work at different organizations, and they get an opportunity to assess you as a future employee.

Sidebar: Boost your chances of winning a scholarship

Increase your odds of snagging scholarships by following these tips:

  • Plan ahead: Many scholarships seek students who’ve demonstrated involvement in their community and/or their school. Bumping up your volunteer hours and working hard on your grades will not only help you get into the school of your choice; you’ll have a better chance of getting a scholarship.
  • Small is beautiful. Small scholarship awards often go unclaimed and that can make them ripe for the picking.
  • Read the fine print. Scholarships often have strict criteria for entry. Make sure you know what they are. There’s no point putting in the time it takes to apply and potentially write an essay or provide supporting materials if you don’t meet the basic requirements.


Canada student loans and grants program:

Ontario Student Assistance Plan:

Lakehead University entrance scholarship:

University of Victoria:


Scholarships:  and and

Reward points:


Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only. Although reasonable effort is made to ensure the information is accurate, Foresters Financial shall accept no responsibility for its accuracy, reliability or validity. All company or organizational names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any Foresters Financial affiliation with, or endorsement by, unless expressly stated.

* Foresters Financial™ member benefits are non-contractual, subject to eligibility requirements and limitations and may be changed or cancelled without notice.

416608 CAN (08/18)

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Camilla Cornell

Camilla Cornell is an award winning freelance writer. She writes about all aspects of personal finance, from the real cost of raising kids to budgeting, insurance and retirement planning. Her articles have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Financial Post, MoneySense and Today's Parent, among other publications.