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How Will You Pay (for higher education)? Part 2: Grades 11 & 12

We’ve been talking about many of the best ways for students and their families to start gathering the $10,000 – $20,000 a year needed to fund a college or university education in Canada.

In Part 1 we talked about what students can and should do in Grades 9 and 10 to get a head start—something we strongly suggest. If you’re in Grade 11 or 12, don’t despair, there’s still time…but you’re going to be busy!

 During Grades 11 & 12:

These two years are quite likely going to be the busiest and possibly the most stressful years to date for any student (and their parents too!). There are a lot of decisions to make and lots of deadlines to meet.

Try to look at the big picture and realize that there are many many paths to any destination—not being admitted to a program of choice doesn’t mean that’s it forever. Maybe it’s just “not now” (see HigherEdPoints Founder Suzanne Tyson’s A Cautionary Tale for real-life proof of this). Not knowing what you want to do “for the rest of your life” is very common—don’t worry about 20 years from now, just focus on what you’re interested in right now, and what you’ll do well in at school (high marks in an Arts program will get you further ahead than mediocre marks in Business or Sciences). Life’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Here are some of the things you can do to increase your potential sources of funding in Grades 11 & 12:

  1. Be sure to ask your school’s Guidance office for any insights they may have regarding scholarships and awards; external parties start here when trying to communicate with students about awards for college or university. Guidance officers will also know all the deadlines, whether any of your school’s former students have applied and what their experiences were (very valuable information is to be had if someone from your school has won before!).
  2. Get as much of the in-person campus visiting done in Grade 11 as possible. This will leave more time in Grade 12 to apply for scholarships, which can be very time-consuming. Also, if you have an idea where you want to go and what you want to study—it will be easier to express how winning a scholarship will help you achieve those dreams (something scholarship providers really like to hear!). Visit the Financial Aid offices on each campus tour (say ‘hi’ from HigherEdPoints—Financial Aid Officers are our campus heroes!) you’ll be surprised at what you learn from them about tapping into extra sources of available funds.
  3. Get back into those scholarship aggregation sites in earnest ( ):
    1. Catalogue any and all scholarships for which you are eligible;
    2. Put the list in priority order, based on: i) deadline, ii) how closely your background matches the criteria and iii) how interested you are in the subject matter required for the application;
    3. Apply for as many as you can!
    4. Check back regularly (monthly) to see if any new awards have been added. For any sites that match your personal profile with their database of awards, remember to update your profile whenever you hit new milestones or have new achievements.
  4. Visit the Financial Aid pages of the websites at your target colleges/universities. Lots of entrance awards don’t require an application, but there are many others available which will.
  5. Ask your parents and/or your own employer if they offer any scholarships or higher education funding.
  6. Ask your parents, relatives, friends and any “nice people” you know if they have Aeroplan® Miles or TD Points that they would be willing to donate to your education through (35,000 Aeroplan Miles or 62,500 TD Points = $250 at ).
  7. Investigate taking a gap year. Sometimes this is the best course of action when you aren’t sure what you might want to study. It’s also a great way to earn some money before you enrol. The best piece of advice we’ve heard is to complete all your applications in Grade 12, get accepted, and then defer your acceptance for a year (be very sure to check that the program will allow this!!). The common fear with a gap year is that one won’t ever return to school—but better to be sure about what to take and where, than to incur the expense and risk getting bad marks, which will definitely impact you later (refer again to Suzanne Tyson’s A Cautionary Tale). College or university is too expensive to attend just because it seems like the thing to do.
  8. Once you’ve submitted your college/university applications, dedicate some time to to learn more about the financial aid available in your home province. Give yourself plenty of time ahead of the deadline(s) to apply.


Have anything to add? Send us an email at: . We’d love to add to this list.


About Higher Ed Points Inc., through partnerships with best-in-class and like-minded Canadian corporations, is dedicated to finding innovative ways to help students and families fund higher education.

After all, it takes a village to raise a mind™


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