Money & Career

How your kids can get a scholarship

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

How your kids can get a scholarship

Of the $70 million available in scholarships each year in Canada, about $7 million goes unclaimed because students don’t realize so many scholarships exist. Here’s how to help your child access those dollars.

Register online
Scholarship websites such as www.studentawards.com and www.scholarshipscanada.com catalogue thousands of awards in their databases. When students register on the sites and create a profile (which includes their academic marks, field of study, schools to which they want to apply, hobbies, artistic pursuits, community service, etc.), the sites match the individuals with scholarships, bursaries and awards for which they are eligible.

ScholarshipsCanada.com doesn't ask for an address or phone number. Studentawards.com requests a parent's address for scholarship-matching purposes.

Once the applicant is registered, Studentawards.com sends the matches to a student's inbox on the site; at ScholarshipsCanada.com, the profile is used to select appropriate matches when the student searches for scholarships. "It's convenient because everything is one place, and I did see a couple of [scholarships] that I'd never heard of," says Edward Choi, 18, who attends Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary and has been using Studentawards.com, which will even send out reminders of scholarship deadlines. ScholarshipsCanada.com plans to have an alert system in place in six months.
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Some scholarships are based on academic performance and/or financial need. Twenty-one-year-old Alysha Sears, a fourth-year neuroscience honours student at Dalhousie University in Halifax who has used ScholarshipsCanada.com, had high school marks in the 90s. She was awarded a $1,500 Oriole Scholarship for her first year, largely based on her marks and financial need.

Find the best scholarship for you
You might be thinking your son is no academic genius, but there are other types of scholarships that might better suit him. "It's important to be well rounded," says Lauren Wallace, 19, a first-year arts and sciences student at University of Guelph in Ontario, who landed seven scholarships (four of which she found on Studentawards.com), including a $16,000 Millennium Excellence Award. Lauren earned the Millennium Award and other scholarships in part because she helped to found a food and clothing bank for other students at her school, went to Kenya in the summer to help build schools through Free the Children and was president of the student council in Grade 11.

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Scholarships are also awarded based on other criteria, such as environmental activism and artistic achievement. Edward, for instance, earned a $100 Chinese Culture Centre Youth Chapter Performing Arts Bronze Award for his piano, public speaking and dramatic arts activities.

Start early
Edward, Alysha and Lauren all snared multiple scholarships because they started the application process in Grade 11. "Most of the bigger scholarships you have to apply for before the second semester of Grade 12," says Lauren. Also, the application process can be time-consuming; applications often require you to complete a questionnaire or essay and provide school transcripts and references. Lauren spent five or six hours on hers, while Edward spent up to 10 hours on his.

The payoff
Is all the effort worth it? Absolutely. "For my first year, I haven't had to pay anything. For the next couple of years, I have $11,000. The cost at Guelph averages about $16,000, if you're in residence and paying tuition, so it does make a difference," says Lauren. "All of the scholarships [seven, totalling $38,325] have helped me because my family is not very wealthy," says Alysha. Also, she doesn't need a part-time job during school, which leaves her more time to study. Beyond the financial benefit, scholarships look good on a résumé.

Back to basics
• Be as prepared as possible when filling out your profile on a scholarship site to ensure you receive the most appropriate matches.

• Consider the smaller scholarships, too; they often have fewer applicants.

• Develop a cover letter and résumé that you can adapt for different scholarships.

• Start looking at the scholarships in Grade 11 to see what's required. Many, for example, require a track record of community service, which you'll need to demonstrate when applying.

• Set aside an hour or two a week to work on the scholarships, so all the work doesn't pile up on top of schoolwork.

Read more:
How to survive university
Saving money for college or university
From high school to higher learning

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This story was originally titled "Scholarship" in the September 2008 issue.

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How your kids can get a scholarship

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