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Best Sources of Funds for Higher Education

We’re often asked to present to students and parents at school events which focus on finding sources of money for higher education. This page summarizes the most important tips from these presentations. Educators, please feel free to reproduce as a handout.

Sources of Funds for Higher Education

The following are common sources of funds used by students and their families for higher education:

1.      Personal savings (from summer jobs)

2.      Help from family (RESPs & other support)

3.      Government loans & grants

4.      Private loans (lines of credit from banks, etc.)

5.      Working during the school year

Even with funding from all the common sources above, the average student who graduates with debt has about $27,000 of debt to pay back after their first degree or diploma.

Here are some tips on finding more sources of free money to decrease (or eliminate) potential post-secondary debt:

1)      Visit college and university Financial Aid websites. All higher ed institutions have Financial Aid webpages which list ever-changing possible sources of funding for prospective and current students-from government loans to entrance awards, bursaries and other scholarships offered uniquely to students attending that school.

2)      Familiarize yourself with government student loan and grant programs. Start at: Each province’s loan program details are listed here. Application deadlines are important to note.

3)      Register at which has a matching system to help narrow down awards best suited to your unique profile. There’s also a search tool located at the top right corner for registered members when they log in. Parents and educators are welcome to sign up. Over $177 million dollars in awards are available every school year!

4)      Ask employers—your parents’ and/or your own. They may have a scholarship for employees and their children or a tuition reimbursement program.

5)      Use! We allow you to convert anyone’s loyalty points into funds for tuition and for loan repayments at over 80 Participating Institutions in Canada!

6)      When on campus stop in at the Financial Aid office (when touring, but especially once enrolled). Visit regularly to ask about any new or open awards. Your school might have a “one app” program (e.g. UNB has ONE application students fill out each year which automatically puts students in the running over 850 awards—imagine getting a cash windfall just because you filled in a form!)

7)      Ask about Work Study programs on your campus—usually run by the Financial Aid department.

8)      Make the Campus Career Center another regular stop on your rounds. A job will earn you some cash, but it may also help you land a job once you graduate. Employers like students with 2-3 years work experience (even for ‘entry level’ positions!).

Searching for funds for higher education pays off…search now, search often!

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