Qualifying for scholarships, bursaries and grants is a good way to help finance your post-secondary education.
Because it’s money you usually don’t have to pay back, applying for as many awards as you can makes sense. Understand each of these awards and do some preliminary research to help navigate the process.
What's the difference?
Scholarships are awarded to students for academic excellence or for other achievements, such as leadership, community service or athletic ability. Admission or entrance scholarships are for students entering their first year of post-secondary education and may continue until graduation, depending on academic standing. Undergraduate scholarships are awarded to students entering their second, third or fourth year of post-secondary study.
Bursaries are awarded based on clearly demonstrated financial need and/or satisfactory academic achievement. Bursaries are intended to supplement other funding sources such as government student loans, employment earnings and family support.
Grants are awarded based on high financial need or special circumstances.
Scholarships, bursaries and grants are offered by a variety of sources, including provincial and federal governments, post-secondary schools, private industry and service organizations.
Where do I start?
To find out what scholarships, bursaries or grants you may be eligible for, check with:
- your high school counsellor
- the student award or financial aid office at the post-secondary school you plan to attend or are currently attending
- your local Alberta Supports Centre
- your family
- you and your family are probably connected with a number of clubs, organizations, companies or unions that may offer awards for post-secondary students. Find out what you might be eligible for.
Not all awards are based on marks
Don’t count yourself out of the running just because you don’t have the best marks in your class. The Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund offers awards to a wide range of students including:
- Indigenous students
- athletic students
- students in high school, post-secondary, graduate and upgrading programs
- students in specific part-time or short-term programs.
Many other scholarships and bursaries are available as well.
How do I apply?
Your eligibility for federal and provincial grants is automatically assessed if you apply for a government student loan. You do not have to submit a separate application.
Take these steps to apply for other awards:
- Do some research to find awards for which you might be eligible. Be aware of the application due dates.
- Obtain the application form(s) and make photocopies to use for your rough draft and to keep for your records. Some awards don’t require an application. Many post-secondary schools automatically grant scholarships to students based solely on their marks. However, you may be notified about the scholarship and still need to apply to receive it. Generally, the higher the academic average, the higher the amount awarded.
- Complete the application form in full. Give yourself plenty of time, especially if you have to submit an essay or portfolio.
- Gather and include all the relevant documents. Make sure you ask appropriate people for letters or recommendations and check back to ensure these letters arrive well before the deadline.
- Know the terms of the award. Is it only for 1 year or will it automatically be renewed? What grades will you need to make to ensure it will be renewed? When and how do you receive the award? Do you have to pay it back if you withdraw from school or change from full-time to part-time status?
The rewards make applying for scholarships, bursaries and grants worthwhile
There are thousands of scholarships, grants and bursaries available. Many are awarded for academic achievement, and many are based on other criteria, like artistic ability, school involvement or cultural heritage. Qualifying for and winning a scholarship, grant or bursary takes time and commitment but the effort can make financing your education a whole lot easier.