How to find college scholarships

Seven tips on how to find money to finance your college education.

Finding and applying for scholarships can be a hassle. How to streamline the process.

See what the schools offer

Many Canadian colleges offer entrance scholarships. These are often automatically awarded based on academic performance, although students sometimes have to apply for them. Your school’s tax office will usually explain this on their website; Some colleges even allow you to apply for all of their scholarships through a single online application. And some schools offer additional awards thanks to donations from alumni, corporations, and other organizations. These aren’t just for newbies; Many scholarships are intended for returnees.

Expand your search

There are several scholarships offered by individuals, organizations and companies. Eligibility for these is based on a variety of factors: some focus on specific areas of study; others are for students who identify as members of a particular group (women, indigenous people, LGBTQ+ students, people with disabilities). There are also grants based on other types of affiliations – your side job may offer grants for employees. A union your parents belong to may have provided money for their employees’ children. You might even be eligible for an award based on a grandparent’s military service. Contact any groups you are affiliated with to find out if they offer post-secondary awards.

What you study is more important than where

There is a common misconception that college students do not get the same scholarships as university students. In Canada, scholarship eligibility is not usually dependent on the type of institution you attend. it’s more often about the type of certification you’re working toward. If you are a college student in a degree program, you can apply for awards intended for graduate students. Many scholarships—including the TD Bank Fellowship for Community Leadership and the SGI Corporate Scholarship—are open to students pursuing either a certification, diploma, or degree. There are even awards like the RBC Future Launch Scholarship, which is for short-term courses, certificate programs and workshops.

Say yes to small awards

The “Full Ride” grants we hear about in pop culture are not common in Canada. While there are some high profile awards here, these are often intended for degree programs at specific universities and are very competitive. Smaller scholarships tend to have smaller pools of applicants, making it easier to stand out. This can be especially true for college students, who generally pay lower tuition than university students.

Make application part of your routine

Working consistently on your applications over a period of time will yield better results than applying to a blitz of grants just before the deadline. Given more time, you can locate a missing letter of recommendation or transcript and have someone proofread your application.

Say the right thing in your application

When writing your application, be sure to highlight your leadership skills, volunteer work, and dedication to community service. Don’t get too bogged down in numbers—grant administrators are less interested in how many hours you’ve volunteered and more interested in impact. Be sure to share what you learned, how it built your character, and how it helped your community. Tell your story in a way that is consistent with the organization’s purpose, goals, and mission statement.

Stay up to date on scholarship news

You can expedite applications (and possibly your chance at grants) by being aware of changes or new opportunities. Check out websites that host scholarship databases, including ScholarshipsCanada, Student Awards, and Yconic, and follow these organizations on social media—they often post information about new scholarships and eligibility.

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