How to Pay for College

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| 5 min read Financial Assistance

With the growing cost of university tuition, it’s become increasingly more difficult for students to pursue higher education. But don’t lose heart—while crowdfunding is one great option for financing your education, there are plenty of other ways to pay for college in case you fall short of your fundraising goal. Read on to learn how to pay for university without taking on major student debt.

Financial aid

Financial aid is available to anyone whose family doesn’t have the means to financially support them through school. The Government of Canada’s Canada Student Loans Program allows the student to apply for aid by filling out details about his or her family’s background; this includes total household income, savings, and any assets they happen to own. Depending on these factors, the student may qualify for a full or partial grant.

Tip: If your parents have divorced or separated, only list the parent who claims you as a dependent. This way, the total household income stated on your application will be lower, and your chances of receiving a greater subsidy will be higher.


A bursary is a monetary award made by an institution to a student to assist in the development of their education if the student and their family are unable to pay for their education. Bursaries may be awarded in addition to a scholarship. The amount awarded for a bursary depends on how much income that household has—the higher the income, the lower the amount the bursary will be. Not to be confused with loans, bursaries do not need to be repaid by students. The best way to find out if you qualify for a bursary is to check the website of the university you want to study at and see whether they offer some sort of bursary program.


If you don’t qualify for financial aid, don’t get discouraged. You can turn to scholarships that are largely merit-based; awarded on criteria, usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor of the award. Lots of scholarships are centered on need, location, talent, and even heritage. Most high school seniors qualify for roughly 50-100 scholarships, which they may not even know about. For example, the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, are worth $75,000 over 4 years). However, the most commonly awarded scholarships have values of $1000-$5000 per year.

Tip: Chances are you’ll qualify for more provincial scholarships than national ones. Look at local organizations and institutions or check with your guidance counselor about what’s available in your area.

National and provincial grants

The federal, provincial, and territorial governments offer grants to students, including grants for full-time and part-time students, students with dependents, and students with disabilities. Even though the amount of relief you qualify for is generally need-based, other factors like the cost of tuition, your status as a student, and your course work will also be taken into account. Grants don’t necessarily need to come out of federal money either; nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, and charities can also provide monetary grants to students.

Provincial and territorial grants are also worth applying to, especially if you want to maximize your chance of receiving a full aid package. While grants on the state level can be more competitive (they usually require that you have a minimum GPA), there tends to be a greater pool of aid available to those who apply on a local scale.

Federal loans

Federal loans are often used in combination with grants and are a great way to make up for any extra costs if your aid package doesn’t cover everything. There’s a limit as to how much you can borrow (to ensure you’re not saddled with debt) plus federal loans have extremely low-interest rates compared to private loans.

Official benefactors

Official benefactors can include the Military, Coast Guard, Air Force, AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services Corps, and ROTC programs.

ROTP (Regular Officer Training Program)

Their programs prepare university students for the military once they’ve graduated. This allows students to pursue a university education without having to worry about tuition or room and board. You will be expected to complete military training and to commit to 12 years of service after graduation, however.

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)

CAF offers a number of paid education programs. The CAF will cover all tuition and fees for your education, including all the textbooks and supplies you need, and guarantee employment after graduation.

Get help paying for tuition

Everyone is entitled to an education. Now that you’re armed with this information, you’ll be able to make the choice that’s best suited to you and your situation. Every day we see people successfully use tuition fundraising to fund their educational dreams. Don’t forget that you can always lessen some of the financial strain by starting a fundraiser.

Thinking about grad school? Learn How to Pay for Graduate School Without Loans.

Start a college fundraiser

Written by caitlin