There are many scholarships available in Canada, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what is available.

For some students, scholarships are simply an “added bonus” for their university studies, but for other students and families, the funds can be the difference between continuing to university or leaving school for financial reasons. Being informed about what is available to you and how to apply can make a big difference for your postsecondary studies.

Scholarship truths

While grades and extracurricular activities are the basis for many scholarships decisions, there are numerous scholarship types that cater to a wide spectrum of students. For example, some scholarships are “regional” (applicants need to originate from a particular town or area) while others can be more select and designated for a specific applicant (someone with a disability or a certain cultural background).


Who offers scholarships? Everyone from schools, companies and charities to governments or private individuals. Your starting point in a search for scholarships should begin at home with your parents. Ask whether the company or organization (even unions) in which your parents work offer any scholarships. Most companies that offer scholarships to employees or children of employees don’t advertise externally. Parents could check with the human resources department for any scholarship offerings.

Are you or any members of your family veterans or children of veterans? Veterans organizations give out a fair amount of scholarships. Maybe your parents belong to a lodge or a club that has a scholarship for members or children of members. You could also inquire whether your church, sports, service group or club has any special scholarships available.

Sometimes high schools offer awards or have specific scholarships associated with them. Generally speaking, the guidance office or the principal will have information on these programs.

Students seated on the lawn at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

Students at UQTR. Photo: Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Do I always need to apply?

Most scholarships require an application, but some are designed to be an automatic consideration, with no application necessary. A number of universities across the country, for example, provide automatic entrance scholarships for students with high school averages above 80 percent, and the amount available is often calculated on a sliding scale depending on your marks.

Know yourself

When applying for scholarships, it’s important to know what you have in the way of strengths. The majority of scholarships are still based on grades, but some administrators are starting to look for other attributes as well. To know what you can get from a scholarship, you have to first know what you have in the way of assets.

Do you:

Have you ever:

Anything that differentiates you from the other students applying for scholarships is important. Try sitting down with your family and brainstorm to develop a list. Something that seems routine to you might be extraordinary to someone else.