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Scholarship Basics

Scholarships are grants of financial aid awarded to a student for the purpose of attending post-secondary education. (There are a small percentage that are awarded for persons not attending post-secondary education).  Scholarships generally are gift awards and do not need to be repaid. 

There is a natural flow of steps when considering scholarships and the sooner you start, the better your chances of finding something for you:

  • First, you need to find the scholarships that you may to apply for.  Do your research...check internet websites and find information within your school.
  • Second, when you find various scholarships to apply for you must review the eligibility requirements for each one. Only apply for the scholarships in which you qualify.
  • Third, you must complete the application and compile all required documents including transcripts (if requested) before submitting your application. Make sure you start early! There is often a lot of work involved in applying for scholarships, so ensure you give yourself more than enough time to complete it.

Where Do I Find Scholarships?

Scholarships can come from anyone and anywhere; it's a matter of finding them. Here are a few ideas:

  • This website (see above) has a few scholarships categorized into the month they are due, as well as by category.
  • Businesses/organizations/clubs
    • Many businesses have scholarships for their employees and their children. It is beneficial to inquire further with your parent/guardian as sometimes these scholarships are exclusive to employee's children which eliminates competition.
    • Clubs such as legions and sport clubs may offer some type of scholarship. Most of the time you need some connection with the club to be eligible.
  • There are a few websites dedicated to scholarships and have a database in which you can search for scholarshipsand/or enter information about yourself. The database then can give you a list of scholarships that fit your answers.
    • See above for a listing of useful scholarship websites
  • Finally, ask around. Inquire with neighbours, friends, family, politicians, teachers, coaches, etc. to see if they know of anything that you may be able to apply for.

Which Scholarships Can I Apply For?

Scholarships can have a wide range of requirements in order to apply. So instead of making yourself fit the requirements, apply for scholarships that fit you!

Know Your Strengths. It is important to know the areas in your life in which you have excelled. By taking some time to think about your personal strengths and involvement in various activities you will have a better idea of which scholarships you may apply for.

Do you:

  • participate in any extracurricular activities?
  • participate in school events?
  • get involved in sporting events?
  • help out in your community?
  • work on student council?
  • volunteer anywhere?

Have you ever:

  • been in a play?
  • worked on a farm?
  • run for office?
  • been on an exchange program?
  • grown vegetables?
  • written a play?​​

Anything that makes you special when applying for scholarships is very important.

You also want to make sure that the scholarship is for students that fit your category. That is, if you are entering post-secondary for the first time, you cannot apply for a scholarship intended for students in their second or third year. 

How Do I Apply?

For most scholarships, you need to fill out an application form (which you can usually get from the scholarship's website, or contact them for an application form to be mailed to you. You may need to add extra material and/or documents they require.

Some awards have an online application where you fill out a form on their web page, and no paper copies are needed. However, they may require other documents such as a trascript to be mailed to them by a certain date. Be mindful of these extra requirements and be sure to submit them on time.

Here are a few pointers for applying:
  • Make sure you do in fact fill all the requirements
  • Give yourself more than enough time to complete the application package
  • If the scholarship requires letters of recommendation, be sure to ask those who know you well and give them as much time as possible to complete the letter(s)
  • Fill out all questions that pertain to you
  • Spelling, grammar and sentence structure are very important.  Make a draft copy if you need to before filling out the form
  • Keep answers positive
  • You are competing with others for the scholarships, what can you say to make your application more deserving than anyone else?
  • Be honest about your abilities and experiences
  • Get your application to the destination on time. If you have to mail your application to Toronto, mail it at least a week before it is due. Any late applications will not be considered.
  • Know who will be reading the application and any letters. If possible, address your letters to them directly.
  • If appropriate, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for the administrator to use to reply to you.

*Some of the information used on this page has been adapted from the Scholarships.com and Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada websites.

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