schol·ar·ship | \ ˈskä-lər-ˌship \
Scholarships are typically based on academic or athletic merit. They provide with financial assistance and do not have to be re-paid. The term scholarship covers many possibilities; there are scholarships for being accepted into a program (an entrance scholarship); others you apply for based on community involvement or grade average; still others are given based on athletic skills. Scholarships can vary drastically, and the application procedure and eligibility requirements can be very different as well. The general rule is to look at an apply to as many scholarships as possible! Sometimes people are reluctant to apply because they think they won’t win so they don’t apply. Because of this sometimes in the end only a couple people apply so the chances you’ll get it are much greater!). Look for scholarships on your university website and through any organization that is applicable to what you study.
award • prize
\ ə-ˈwȯrd \ • \ ˈprīz \
When financial aid does not fall into one of the above definitions, then it is usually just called an award or prize. This could be an essay contest, prize from a corporate sponsor, or a draw.
bur·sa·ry | \ ˈbər-sə-rē \
Bursaries are typically given to students based on financial need. They are provided to you to help in all aspects of student life, including rent. Bursaries can be provided by the university/college, but also can be found through special bank programs (like RBC). These are also very common for graduate studies to help students pay tuition and live modestly while working on their research. Unlike a loan or student aid, you don’t need to pay this back and it usually is tax exempt.
\ ˈlōn \
Loans and student lines of credit are the most popular financial assistance. Unlike a scholarship or bursary you do have to pay this back and often with interest. You can find loans through banks, government programs, or the bank of mom and dad (or maybe grandma and grandpa). Typically if you are borrowing money from a bank they will give you a student line of credit. You will need a cosigner, but this option gives you a certain amount of money that you can access while you’re a student and you just have to pay the interest payments each month (which isn’t very much). Once you graduate and are working, you will have one year to continue to pay just the interest, but after your one year you will have to pay the interest plus a set amount to start paying the priciple off as well.
It can be scary and daunting to dig your way through the heaps of potential scholarships, bursaries or awards.
But take a breath and realize you’re not alone. As much as you may try, you probably won’t be able to apply to everything and sleep and eat as well! So apply to what you can, always read the eligibility requirements, and if you think you won’t get it, still apply ! — you never know what could happen! Talk to your university and department to see what funding they provide or suggest, and of course, we are always here to help!