Scholarships and Bursaries

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What is a Scholarship?

Scholarships may be awarded based on academic merit, extracurricular activities or other distinctions. Scholarships may also have a financial need component.

Unlike with a loan, you do not have to pay back scholarship money. Some scholarships require you to complete an application; for others, you are automatically considered. It is important to know the difference when you apply.

Useful Scholarship Terms

  • Application required: You must submit an application to be considered for the scholarship.
  • Application not required: You are automatically considered for the scholarship when you apply to the university. An example would be entrance scholarships, which are based on academic merit (usually your high school grades).
  • Renewable: A scholarship that can be awarded to you yearly, as long as you continue to meet all of the requirements.
  • Non-renewable: A scholarship that is awarded for 1 year only. Schools that provide these scholarships often offer additional upper-year scholarships that may not be highlighted until you are at that university.

View Ontario Universities’ Info for a list of Ontario university scholarships.

Most universities also provide lists or search tools to help you look for scholarships. You can usually find these on their financial aid office websites. You can also contact the Indigenous student centre at your university for support when applying for scholarships.

Read more information about scholarships at each university.

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What is a Bursary?

A bursary is money awarded based on financial need that you do not have to pay back. You may also need to provide a budget to demonstrate financial need as part of the application process.

There are many ways to search for bursaries. You may find the following resources and organizations useful in your search:

  • The Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool is a searchable list of more than 750 scholarships and bursaries across Canada, provided by donors and foundations to support Indigenous students in their studies.
  • The Métis Nation of Ontario offers Métis students a list of available scholarships and bursaries. Visit their website to view this list and for more information about how to apply.
  • Indspire is an Indigenous-led charity that provides scholarships and bursaries for Indigenous students attending postsecondary education. Visit Indspire’s website for information about types of financial aid and their application deadlines.

You can also visit or call the Indigenous student centre at your university for more information about bursaries and their application process.

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After you apply to university, begin to look for scholarships, bursaries and awards. The Ontario Universities’ Info scholarships database can help you in your search for general and university-specific awards. Remember to also contact your university’s Indigenous student centre and financial aid office for more information about available university scholarships.

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Make Sure You Qualify

Many scholarships are designed for people who:

  • belong to a particular Indigenous community,
  • have achieved academic or sporting excellence and/or
  • plan to study in a certain field or at a certain level.

Read through the scholarship, bursary or award information carefully to make sure you meet the application criteria.

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Gather Your Information

To apply for a scholarship, bursary or award, you will usually need to fill out forms and provide documents to support your application. You will want to start your application sooner rather than later, because it might take some time to obtain/order required documents (such as an academic transcript) or contact your references. Some documents and information you may be asked to provide with your application include:

  • Proof of citizenship or residency status
  • Evidence of community involvement, financial need or ancestry
  • A letter of acceptance from your school
  • A list of references
  • A personal statement
  • Academic transcripts

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Organize Your Information

List all the scholarships, bursaries and awards that are applicable to you, and include their application deadlines, the required supporting documents (such as an academic transcript) and how and when you will get these documents.

Keep in mind you can re-purpose pieces of your application, since most applications require similar information. This means that you do not always have to start each application from scratch!

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Do a Final Check and Apply

Check, check and check again. Use this checklist to make sure you are ready to submit your application.

Complete the following:

  • Fill out the application forms carefully.
  • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Provide all the required supporting documents.
  • Ask someone to check your application. That person might notice something you missed.
  • Meet the deadlines.
  • Make copies of every application you send, for your own reference.
  • Provide current contact details.

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