Free Money for School

If you think scholarships, awards and bursaries are not for you, think again. Photo of Dollar Sign and Canadian Money

Many students assume scholarships are linked only to very high grades. Some are, but many scholarships use other criteria.

Sports, community involvement, leadership, working with youth, volunteering, being a mature student or single-parent, and even your part-time work are just a few ways to qualify for free money for school. Maclean's magazine online has a great article about finding free money, written by "two guys who weren't stand-out students."

Completing an application form and writing an essay to apply for a scholarship may take a few hours, but how else can you earn $200, $500, or $1000+ for just a few hours work? That's great pay!

Finding Scholarships, Bursaries & Awards

  • Ask people at your school, your family members, neighbours, and family friends whether they know about scholarships from their communities, church, service organizations or workplaces. Most people want to help you succeed at school, and they’ll be glad you asked.
  • Ask your school guidance counsellor.
  • Watch newspapers and look online for announcements about scholarships in your areas of interest.Google "Scholarship + Soccer + Nova Scotia", for example.
  • Contact your (future) school program to ask about scholarships reserved for students in that program, or other sources of free money from the school.
  • If you’re a Nova Scotia student attending a Nova Scotia university, you will receive the Nova Scotia University Student Bursary of $1,283 per year. You don’t need to apply – it is deducted from your tuition costs automatically and shows on the statement you get from your university each term.
  • Look into Government Scholarships
  • Try the Maclean's On Campus Scholarship Finder
  • Sign up at:
  • Sign up at:  (formerly known as

Some scholarship websites use your personal data to narrow your search. Be aware that any information you provide could be shared with advertisers and other sponsors.


Strategic Tips:

Use ALL Your Strengths

Make a long, careful list of all your interests, skills, volunteer work, fine arts training, awards, and sports activities. If you know what you plan to study in school, add it to your list. Use these to help you search and to fill out applications.

Don’t Disqualify Yourself

Sometimes the list of criteria for a scholarship looks intimidating. Even if you don’t meet ALL the criteria for a scholarship or award, apply anyway. Sometimes a scholarship reviewer receives very few or no applications at all because EVERY student feels they don’t meet the criteria. Even if you meet 2 out of 3 specific criteria, you might get the scholarship if yours is the best application the reviewer receives.

Apply for a LOT of scholarships. This pays off.

Work Smarter, not Harder

A lot of essays that are required for scholarship applications share similar themes, so keep a copy on your computer. Once you’ve written a few essays, you may be able to rewrite them a bit and “recycle” your work for the next application, which makes it a lot easier and faster to produce the next few essays.

Scholarships & Nova Scotia Student Assistance

At Student Assistance, our assessment of your financial need ignores the first $900 (single year program) or $1800 (multi-year programs) of scholarships or awards that you receive. This means that you could have an extra $900 ($1800) to put toward school next year. If your scholarships total more than $900 ($1800) in one year, we do count the difference as money you can contribute toward school, but that means you’ll need to repay less loan money later.

Don't overlook scholarships as one great way to help you Finance Your Education.