Swimming in Scholarships

Nothing can brighten a student’s day like free money. Being awarded a scholarship feels a little like winning a lottery. Having that inflow of cash can help counter the outflow of tuition, textbooks, and invigilation fees that accompany a postsecondary education. The best part: a scholarship, unlike a loan, does not need to be paid back.

If you’re having trouble finding scholarships you qualify for, don’t despair. There are more scholarships out there than you can imagine. However, most scholarships will not come looking for you?you have to go looking for them. Where do you start? Don’t just flounder around the internet; dive in here:

Athabasca University. AU offers dozens of scholarships for its undergraduate and graduate students. Start at the Student Awards page and beginning shopping for an award. On the Awards for Undergraduate Students page, you’ll find almost 100 awards listed. Most awards require an application; those with an upcoming due date are noted.

Athabasca University’s Student Union. AUSU offers four scholarships for AU undergraduate students: the Academic Achievement Scholarship, the Balanced Student Award, the Returning Student Award, and the Student Service Award. There are two award cycles each year with deadlines of May 1 and November 1. Details on each award are on the Scholarship, Awards & Bursaries page of the AUSU website. AUSU also has bursaries which can be applied for year-round.

External Awards. There are many scholarships offered by other organizations. AU maintains a list of some of these awards on their External Awards page. Here you’ll find links to about 80 awards offered by organizations such as the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Foundation for the Advancement of Aboriginal Youth, Rotary International, and the Trudeau Foundation. Since these awards are not connected to AU, you’ll have to click on each link for details on eligibility, due dates, and application procedures.

Universities Canada administers scholarships for over a dozen organizations. The awards list, including application due dates, is available on their page, Scholarships and Internships for Canadian Students. The Universities Canada site indicates which awards are currently accepting applications, and provides a notification service for those that are not.

Scholarship databases. Both Yconic.com and Scholarships Canada have extensive, searchable databases of scholarships for their members. It’s easy to sign up for an account. Once logged in, you can search available scholarships, set up alerts, and enter contests.

Government of Canada. For more scholarships, check out the Scholarships page from the Government of Canada’s CanLearn site, the Education and Training page from Service Canada, and the International Scholarships page from Global Affairs Canada.

Wait, we’re not done! Don’t forget to check close to home, too. Some employers offer scholarships to employees and their family members. Many organizations offer scholarships to their members, families, and sometimes anybody. (Check out The Voice’s 2014 article, “What Mensa’s Got for AU Students”, for information on that organization’s scholarships, which are available to all Canadians.)

As you browse through awards websites and lists, make note of any you are eligible for now, or will be in the future. Maintain your own personal list so you can note details of the awards you want to review again. Put any upcoming application deadlines in your calendar.

AU’s scholarship offerings are just drop in a sea of scholarships. There is an ocean of available awards out there, it just takes time?and a bit of swimming?to find them.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.