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Knowing where to find university or college scholarships, grants, and bursaries can be a challenge. On many occasions, I’ve heard from students and parents about how time consuming and frustrating the process can be. 

So, let’s break down the mystery of where to find awards for Canadian students. 

Popular Scholarship Websites to Help Students Find Awards

This is a brief overview of the biggest and most known platforms to find scholarships in Canada. My recommendation is to use more than one website to find scholarships so you don’t miss opportunities that you have a good chance of winning. 

Scholarships Canada

ScholarshipsCanada.com is a leading online database for Canadian students seeking financial aid, offering extensive listings of scholarships, bursaries, and grants. There are many awards on this site so be prepared to invest time to filter relevant options.

Student Awards

StudentAwards is a prominent platform for Canadian students. It provides scholarship and financial aid listings. It offers sponsored scholarships and at the time of writing this, lists about 100 scholarships at a time.

Scholar Tree

ScholarTree helps Canadian students find scholarships and awards that fit their profile. It takes a personalized approach, but limits a user to the prizes found by the platform’s algorithm.

Student Scholarships

StudentScholarships.com offers a wide range of scholarships, grants, and contest information. Its expansive listings can help find diverse opportunities. The site is large so it may take users time to pinpoint the most relevant scholarships.

The BridgesEDU Free Scholarship Finder for Canadian Students

The BridgesEDU Free Scholarship Finder is our platform. It offers a list of scholarships that lets users find awards with keyword searches. The list format allows for quick scrolling through options. 

College and University scholarships for high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students.

Make Use of Your High School Guidance Office

The great thing I’ve seen about some guidance offices is that they keep a list of awards for students. The other benefit is that your guidance counselor likely knows you or your child and can recommend awards and bursaries based on academic achievement, community leadership, extracurricular involvement, personal finances, or a wide range of other scholarship eligibility criteria

For students and parents in the private school system, you may want to check with your guidance office for featured scholarships available to students at your school. These prizes often come from alumni who want to give back. 

University or College Financial Aid Office: Find Scholarships From Your School

Another place to connect with scholarships, grants, and bursaries is your or your child’s college or university financial aid office. Many of these offices keep up-to-date scholarship lists that can be delivered to you with the click of a button. Many institutions have even migrated these lists into searchable databases of scholarships. For example, check out Western University’s scholarship platform and the University of Toronto’s platform. Many institutions have similar resources.

Expert Tip: A Great Way to Find Scholarships Can Be Your Department 

This tip is far from a guarantee, but it never hurts to ask. Sometimes, specific departments will offer student awards based on academic interest, major, or courses taken. A quick conversation with your department may help you or your child find relevant scholarships. 

For example, here’s a list of awards from York University’s Department of History

Personal Network

Your personal network is where you’ll likely find the least competitive prizes. This is because your chances of finding poorly advertised scholarships goes up when you’re closely affiliated with a scholarship provider. Your or your child’s clubs, hobbies, and interests offer ways to tap into organizations that want to invest in students via scholarships. Here are some avenues you can pursue to find scholarships within your personal network:

Employers That Offer Free Money for Post-Secondary Education

If you’re holding down a part-time job while in high school or attending college or university, check with your employer regarding scholarships. Some employers or unions invest in their employees’/members’ education, which is great for you. Often, the scholarship application process is not too difficult and there are few applicants. Similarly, if you’re a parent employed by a big business or you’re part of a union, check with them about potential prizes for your child.

Community Organizations

Local community organizations sometimes offer scholarships. For example, a hockey association, a church, an art studio, or even a local business may give away scholarships.

Student-specific identity traits like your ancestry, race, or gender may qualify you for a scholarship as well. For example, there are many scholarships for women in STEM, scholarships based on ethnicity, and scholarships based on race. 

Overall, look for scholarships connected to anything that makes you unique. If there’s a community, there may be scholarship money. 

Teachers and Professors

Another resource that you’re likely closely connected to are your teachers and professors. This is particularly true for graduate students who may be working closely with professors and/or academic supervisors. Scholarships for graduate students are numerous and professors are likely to have a lot of experience in this area.

Scholarship directory to help students win money for college and university

Search Engines

Without a doubt, search engines like Google are one of the richest resources to find college and university scholarships. Searching the term “scholarships” yields endless hits, but don’t stop there. 

Tip: Find Scholarships by Getting Specific…Very Specific

The more specific you get, the better. For example, if you’re a student with stellar grades, look for merit-based scholarships. You may also look for scholarships related to your residence – for instance, scholarships for students from your city, town, or municipality.

Also, assume that many other students and parents are actively looking for scholarship prizes, too. For this reason, the more specific your searches are, the less competition there will likely be. Furthermore, you should always navigate beyond the first page of search results. The deeper you journey into the multiple pages of scholarship search results, the better. This is where you’re likely to find scholarship opportunities that are known to fewer students.

Understanding the Bigger Picture of Popular Scholarship Websites

As is the case with searches on Google, you should assume that many students and parents are actively looking for scholarship prizes within scholarship websites. For this reason, the more specific your searches are, the less competition there will likely be. This is where keyword search capability is handy. This function allows you to search terms in award titles and descriptions that are unique to you. For example, you could filter scholarships by major, ethnicity, race, gender, GPA, or many other criteria. 

Again, this will help you and your child find awards with less competition. 

Federal and Provincial Government Websites to Find Grants and Student Awards

The Federal Government of Canada offers a variety of grants for students in partnership with provincial governments. There are also federal scholarships available for students studying in sectors with chronic labour shortages, as well as scholarships focused on helping students from underrepresented groups attend postsecondary education. 

Note that some government education grants are offered alongside student loan services. This means you may have to apply for a student loan in order to get a grant. Always read terms carefully to know if it’s possible to accept these grants without taking the loan, unless you intend to use the loan. 

Here are more useful links to scholarship, grant, and bursary awards offered by provincial governments:

  1. Alberta
  2. British Columbia
  3. Manitoba
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Newfoundland and Labrador
  6. Nova Scotia
  7. Ontario
  8. Prince Edward Island
  9. Quebec
  10. Saskatchewan

Beware of Scholarship Scams

Scholarship scams are out there. It’s no secret that scholarships offer a huge benefit to students and parents. This means that many people are online looking for these opportunities. Of course, where there’s a lot of attention, there’s a risk of scams. 

This shouldn’t deter you from looking and applying for scholarships. However, use your judgement. If an offer is too good to be true, it might be. Some websites just want your information. After they get it, you’ll be spammed beyond belief! 

Harness the power of AI with a ChatGPT scholarship essay writer

An Important Note Before Looking for Scholarships

As you examine the above resources, try to do so with your or your child’s student profile in mind. 

I say this because all scholarships are not created equal. In fact, there are many different types of scholarships. Knowing which ones to focus on can make a difference. 

For example, for a student with strong grades, “merit scholarships” or “entrance scholarships” may be the way to go. These awards are typically available to students with high academic averages. On the other hand, there are many financial need awards and bursaries that aim to support students with lower family income. In these cases, grades typically count less. 

What’s the Difference Between a Scholarship, Grant, and Bursary?

This brings us to the distinction between scholarships, grants, and bursaries. Scholarships are similar to bursaries and grants. However, grants and bursaries usually have a financial need requirement and are given out by federal or provincial governments or by college or university institutions. 

Know that the types of awards don’t end there. As mentioned elsewhere in this post, there are scholarships based on level of study, field of study, extracurricular activities, race, gender, hobbies, and so many other criteria. Knowing this can help you or your child search for scholarships that align with specific strengths. This can increase the odds of winning. 

Summary: Where to Find Scholarships in Canada

  • It’s good practice to use at least a couple scholarship websites to find awards in Canada: The BridgesEDU Free Scholarship Finder, Scholarships Canada, and Scholar Tree are a few among others. 
  • Use your school’s resources. A guidance office for high school students or a financial aid office for college and university students. 
  • Consult with your network including employers, community organizations, teachers, and professors.
  • Google is a great scholarship finding tool. Use it strategically to find awards with less competition.
  • Consult federal and provincial education programmes to find out if you or your child is eligible for scholarships, grants, or bursaries. 

Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.

He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships. 

Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships. 

Read more about Christopher’s journey here