I know it seems too early to talk about university scholarships. We’re still lamenting the fact that it’s their LAST year of high school, but the application deadline for some of these awards is quickly approaching.

Even if your son/daughter isn’t an academic or athletic superstar, there are still thousands of Canadian post-secondary scholarships handed out each year. In fact, about 3-5% of these scholarships go unclaimed because there simply aren’t enough applicants.

Some deadlines are as early as October 30th, while others cut off applications between February and April. So, it’s a good idea to get a jump on things and at least start figuring out what’s available.

Scholarships Canada is the most well-known (and free!) scholarship matching service for Canadian students. Another one to check out is Yconic. And, if you live in the United States, you’ll want to peruse the site Fastweb.

These sites are extremely helpful because they do the work for you. They help match your student with a list of scholarships they may be eligible for.

Scholarships Canada maintains a database of 85,000 scholarships/awards worth over 2 million dollars.

“Most of the scholarships in the database do not require high marks and most do not require financial need,” says Chris Watkins, the founder of Scholarships Canada.

“There is likely an award out there for every student, you just need to log onto the site, create a profile and we’ll match you with the scholarship that you might be eligible for,” he adds.

The average cost of university tuition last year, according to Stats Canada, was $6,373. Interestingly, the highest average tuition was in Ontario at $8,114 and the lowest tuition was in Newfoundland at $2,759.

“There’s a lot of anxiety over the cost of going to college or university and programs are becoming more expensive, so there may be more interest in scholarships,” says Watkins, noting the site gets between 5,000 – 10,000 hits per day.

I decided to give the site a try because I was curious what it would suggest for my daughter based on her marks, hobbies, activities, religious and cultural affiliations.

The website found a total of 67 scholarships worth $160,000. Some were as little as $500 while others were as much as $60,000. Obviously, the greater the amount, the more people who apply, so a tip is to apply for several of the smaller ones. Yes, you can apply for more than one!

Here’s a sampling of what the website found:

-a $1,000 scholarship from the government of Alberta for women entering a traditionally male-dominated profession

-$3,000 Bank of Montreal MENSA scholarship

-$60,000 scholarship from Schulich engineering

-$20,000 “Thank You, Mom and Dad” scholarship from the Student Life Network — basically a contest, with a randomly selected winner.

-$1,000 scholarship from the Hammock Stand Company. (I listed travel as one of my daughter’s interests. To be eligible for this award, applicants must write an essay about one of their travels…that’s it!)

There are also awards for people with special needs, single mothers, the list goes on…

I know many kids don’t bother to apply for scholarships because, quite simply, they’re lazy and complain that writing an essay is too much work. They have also been led to believe their chances of winning a scholarship are pretty slim. But, you’ll never win one, unless you apply. So this may take some gentle nudging on your part. After all, every award can help ease the financial stress that some families experience when sending kids off to college/university.

Your son or daughter should start preparing now by gathering reference letters, transcripts, beefing up their community service/volunteer hours and writing an essay, if required.

“We believe education can make a difference in kids’ lives. We’re motivated by trying to help students realize their full potential,” says Watkins.

To learn more, you can visit www.scholarshipscanada.com.

Does your family have any experience with applying for and receiving a scholarship? Please share your story below.



Author Michelle

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