Earning a scholarship in Canada is not only a major achievement, but for many students, a necessity to fund their post-secondary schooling. Given the importance of scholarship programs for thousands of students in Canada, we have put together a need-to-know guide on getting Canadian scholarships.
Continue reading to learn more about the types of scholarships offered in Canada, scholarship requirements, and tips to increase your odds of a successful application.
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Types of scholarships in Canada
Scholarship programs in Canada aim to help students from all backgrounds and walks of life. They are offered by Canadian colleges, Canadian universities, the Canadian government, as well as third party organizations and businesses. Below, we’ve broken down a few of the most common categories of scholarships:
- Merit-based scholarships: Merit-based scholarships are granted based on academic standing or achievement, as well as involvement in extracurricular activities.
- Need-based scholarships: Need-based scholarships come down to financial need. If you have greater financial needs than other students, you may be eligible for these types of scholarships.
- Sports scholarships: Sports scholarships are geared towards athletes who excel in a certain sport.
- Field-specific scholarships: Field scholarships are granted to students who choose to follow a specific field of study or career path, e.g. engineering or biology.
- Demographic scholarships: Some scholarship programs in Canada aim to help students from specific backgrounds or who are part of certain demographics, e.g. Indigenous students, women, or LGBTQ+ students.
How to find Canadian scholarships
If you plan to pursue secondary education after high school, then knowing how to find Canadian scholarships is a great skill. You may be surprised to see how much money you could be eligible to be awarded.
Since there are so many different scholarships out there, we recommend starting your search early. Given how long the application process can take and how far in advance some of the deadlines are, it’s best to get a headstart. To begin your scholarship search, we suggest using online databases like Scholarships Canada and Yconic. These specialized websites allow you to filter your search based on criteria like the field of study, school of study, or organization providing the scholarship. Once you’ve reviewed the lists, check in with your high school or chosen post-secondary institution to see if they offer scholarships directly to students. Similarly, you can reach out directly to companies, non-profits, charities, and professional associations in your area to see if they have any scholarship opportunities available.
How to apply for scholarships
Once you’ve found a list of scholarship programs that suit your profile, it’s time to start applying! Remember that each scholarship program in Canada has its own unique application process, so you will need to read through the information carefully. Here’s how to get started andapply for your short-listed university and college scholarships:
1. Review the eligibility criteria
First thing’s first, make sure that you are eligible for each scholarship you want to apply for. Every scholarship should have a clear list of eligibility criteria. This criterion may range from a specific minimum GPA or number of volunteer hours to a province or country of residence or personal identifier, such as being a woman or a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
2. Check the application deadline
Once you’ve confirmed that you are eligible for a certain scholarship, check the application deadline to ensure it has not passed. If the deadline for the year you wish to apply has not been posted, set a reminder to check back in a few weeks or months. Whenever the deadline is confirmed, create a calendar event or reminder on your phone or computer to make sure you don’t miss it.
3. Collect the necessary documentation
The third step is to collect the necessary documentation. When applying for a scholarship program in Canada, most require various documents, such as academic transcripts, proof of enrollment, photo identification, and letters of recommendation.
4. Write an essay or personal statement
If you are required to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your scholarship application, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to do this.
Some scholarships may ask you to write an essay on a particular topic or to answer a question. Others may simply want to learn more about you, which means that you should focus on writing about your achievements and aspirations during and beyond post-secondary school. Ultimately, even for merit or sports-based scholarships that take into account other factors, like your GPA or athletic abilities, you will still likely have to write an essay or personal statement. It is the essay component of the application that gives you an opportunity to show the committee who you are and why you would benefit from a scholarship, so it’s important to make it as engaging as possible.
5. Double-check all applications
It’s always wise to proofread your work, whether you’re submitting a scholarship application or handing in a high school essay. So before you press “submit,” read through your written essay for grammatical or spelling errors, get a second opinion from someone you trust, and run through the checklist of all documents that need to be included in our application to ensure you have everything.
6. Submit your scholarship applications
The sixth step is to submit your applications. Since you will likely be applying for more than one scholarship, make sure that you submit the correct file format. If you don’t receive confirmation of your application’s submission, don’t hesitate to contact the company or organization to ask for written confirmation that they have received it.
7. Be Patient
The final (and perhaps most difficult) step to applying for scholarships in Canada is to sit and wait. After submitting your application, a committee will review it and get back to you when they have an update. Depending on the scholarship, this process could take weeks or months. Try to be patient. You will receive an update on the status of your application as soon as the scholarship committee has one for you.
General tips for scholarship applications in Canada
If you want to increase your odds of being awarded a scholarship in Canada, follow the tips below:
- Don’t just apply for one scholarship: Instantly increase your odds of getting a scholarship in Canada by applying for multiple scholarships. Research available grants and scholarships of all sizes, offered by a range of different companies, institutions, and organizations.
- Consider local scholarships: Provincial or national scholarships may be more lucrative, meaning they award students a greater amount of money, but they also may be more competitive. In contrast, local scholarship programs will likely have fewer applicants, giving you higher odds of being accepted.
- Personalize your application: Personalizing your scholarship application can also help improve your chances of being awarded a scholarship in Canada. When writing a personal statement or essay, make sure to address the specific aim of the scholarship. You should also ensure that you write a unique personal statement for each application, rather than copying and pasting.
- Develop a network: Having a network around you will only help when it comes to scholarship applications. This is due to the fact that many applications ask for letters of recommendation. If you have developed strong relationships with teachers, coaches, mentors, guidance counselors, employers, and more, you will be more likely to write a meaningful letter of recommendation.
- Organization is key: If you plan to apply to multiple scholarships, which most experts recommend, then staying organized is of the utmost importance. You will likely have a long list of application deadlines, eligibility requirements, and contact information to keep track of. If you forget about even one deadline it could mean the difference between getting a university scholarship and not getting one at all. So do what you have to do to stay organized, whether that means downloading a task or planning app, setting reminders on your smartphone or laptop, or writing them down on a calendar.
- Have a backup plan: In case your scholarship applications don’t get your way, it is important to have a backup. This is where applying for OSAP or having a government plan, like a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), will help.
Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.