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High school is a great time for Canadian students to jump into the world of scholarships and awards. 

However, it’s no secret that navigating post-secondary funding can feel complex and overwhelming. 

As students transition from secondary school to post-secondary institutions, understanding the landscape of scholarships, grants, and bursaries is crucial. So, below, we’ll focus on what you need to know to maximize college and university financial aid opportunities before you graduate high school. 

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

Where to Find Scholarships for Canadian High School Students

Make Use of Your High School Guidance Office

High school guidance offices often maintain comprehensive lists of awards and scholarships available to students. Guidance counselors, familiar with the academic and extracurricular achievements of their students, can provide personalized recommendations for scholarships and bursaries.

For those attending private schools, it’s beneficial to inquire within your guidance office about scholarships specifically earmarked for students at your institution. These scholarships are frequently sponsored by alumni aiming to support the next generation of students from their alma mater.

Personal Network

Leveraging your personal network can lead to discovering some of the least competitive scholarships, often due to their limited advertisement. Engaging with organizations connected to your or your child’s hobbies, clubs, and interests can reveal unique scholarship opportunities. Here are some specific areas within your personal network to explore:

Employers That Offer Free Money for Post-Secondary Education

Students working part-time jobs or parents employed by large corporations or members of unions should inquire about educational scholarships. These organizations often provide scholarships as part of their commitment to investing in the education of their employees or members. The competition for such scholarships is typically lower, making them an attractive option.

Community Organizations

Many local groups, including sports associations, churches, art studios, and local businesses, offer scholarships to support students in their community. Whether it’s based on participation in community activities, membership in specific groups, or unique personal traits like ancestry, race, or gender, these scholarships aim to support diverse aspects of student identity.

Online Scholarship Finders

In the digital age, online resources have become invaluable in the search for scholarships. One of the most effective tools at your disposal is the BridgesEDU Free Scholarship Finder.

This tool is a comprehensive online database designed to connect Canadian high school students with scholarships that match their academic and personal profiles. By incorporating specific search terms related to your interests, academic achievements, and unique characteristics, you can discover scholarships that are tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Here’s an overview of some other well-known scholarship database.

Scholarship directory to help students win money for college and university

School-Specific Scholarships

A significant source of scholarships for Canadian high school students is directly from the post-secondary institutions to which they apply. Many colleges and universities across Canada offer entrance awards specifically designed for graduating high school students. These scholarships can range from merit-based awards, recognizing academic excellence and leadership, to need-based bursaries aimed at assisting students with financial constraints.

Each institution has its own set of scholarships, with varying criteria and award values. To explore these opportunities, it’s crucial to visit the financial aid office of each school you’re interested in. Whether you’re eyeing a large university in a bustling city or a smaller college in a more intimate setting, there’s a wealth of scholarships waiting to be discovered. It’s great to do this research before you enroll in any program. This will help you plan and understand your financial aid options. 

To make your search easier, we’ve included a map below that links directly to the financial aid offices of post-secondary institutions across each province. By clicking on our map, you can quickly navigate to your province and explore the scholarships and awards each school has to offer.

Provincial Scholarships

In addition to school-specific scholarships, it’s also beneficial to explore provincial post-secondary scholarship programs and bursaries. Each province in Canada offers a variety of financial aid options designed to support students as they transition to post-secondary education. Alberta Student Aid, for example, offers a robust set of scholarship and bursary programs for students entering post-secondary studies. 

There may also be grant programs offered by your province. For example, students qualifying for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), may also qualify for non-repayable grants. 

All in all, these programs can provide additional financial support based on a range of criteria, including academic achievement, financial need, and more. For a comprehensive overview of what’s available in your province, be sure to check out our link to provincial government financial aid programs

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Top Scholarships for Canadian High School Students

Canadian high school students have access to a plethora of scholarships aimed at supporting their transition to post-secondary education. Among the most prestigious and competitive are:

  • The Loran Award: Recognizing excellence in character, service, and leadership, this scholarship provides substantial financial support alongside mentorship and internship opportunities.
  • The Schulich Leader Scholarship: Aimed at students pursuing post-secondary studies in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, this award seeks individuals demonstrating academic excellence and innovation.
  • The TD Scholarship for Community Leadership: Focused on students who have shown leadership in improving their community, this award offers financial aid to those who have made a significant impact through their initiatives and efforts.

These scholarships not only provide financial support, but also recognize the achievements and potential of Canadian high school students. With eligibility criteria emphasizing academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership, these awards are highly competitive and prestigious.

Keep in mind that these are very competitive programs.

Be sure to check out the BridgesEDU $1,000 Scholarship for Canadian Students – Open to graduating high school students!

Scholarship for High School and post-secondary students in Canada

Important Tips for Landing Scholarships for Canadian High School Students

Start Early in Finding and Applying for Scholarships

Initiating the search for scholarships well before the twelfth grade is advantageous. This proactive approach allows you to familiarize yourself with the requirements you must meet for various scholarship programs.

Of course, grade 12 comes with the pressures of impending post-secondary education, and scholarship competitions can add to this pressure. An early jump on goal setting and scholarship applications can help alleviate feelings of overwhelm.

Remember, scholarship, college, and university applications typically occur while you’re still a full-time student. So, plan well and plan ahead!

Understand Eligibility Criteria and Types of Scholarships for High School Students

Each scholarship has its own set of eligibility criteria. It’s essential for you to research and understand these criteria to enhance your chances of success.

Scholarships may cater specifically to students based on academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, financial need, or unique personal backgrounds. Another very common requirement is that applicants must be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary program.

To reiterate an important point: eligibility requirements can vary tremendously. For example, in addition to the types of scholarships noted above, there are scholarships for women in STEM, Indigenous students, nursing, engineering, and many more criteria. International students should also check on citizenship requirements. So, examine the type of scholarship you’re considering very closely and be sure to understand all terms and conditions to be sure you’re eligible.

Scholarship directory to help students win money for college or university

Final Note on Scholarships and Awards for Canadian High School Students

In short, navigating the world of scholarships and awards presents a golden opportunity for you or your child to fund post-secondary education and achieve academic and career goals.

By starting the scholarship search early, understanding eligibility criteria, and utilizing a variety of resources—from guidance offices and personal networks to online scholarship finders—you can significantly increase your chances of securing financial aid.

Specifically, Canadian high school students should plan to:

  • Start your scholarship search early to maximize your opportunities.
  • Understanding the types and eligibility criteria of scholarships, including merit-based, need-based, and those based on extracurricular activities or personal background.
  • Leverage resources such as high school guidance offices, personal networks, and online scholarship finders to discover a wide range of scholarship opportunities.
  • Examine all options and submit applications that match your profile well.
  • Where possible, aim for top scholarships such as the Loran Award, Schulich Award, and TD Leaders Award, which recognize excellence in various areas including academic achievement, leadership, and community service.

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