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How Can You Afford Tuition Costs? These Tips Will Help!


By Ingrid Wang

You may have gotten into your first choice school and are excitedly preparing for the next step when you think: “How am I going to pay for this?” While many high school students may have a part-time job and some savings, the cost of postsecondary education can put a huge financial strain on families. Here are 3 tips to help you finance your future education, so you can afford tuition costs.


Merit-based scholarships are one of the best ways to afford tuition costs. Scholarships look at your academic achievement and also your extracurriculars, leadership, character, community involvement, awards, or distinctions. You can apply for merit-based scholarships through your high school, universities, local community, and other organizations. 

Scholarships From Your High School

Often these scholarships are less competitive than ones on the national scale. They are funded by outside organizations or private donors and may seek specific kinds of students. The scholarships could be community-based, or require you to be actively involved in your school’s arts or music program, or require that you must be a female entering a postsecondary engineering program. Speak with your school’s guidance department to discover the awards your school offers and how to apply.

Scholarships From Universities and Colleges

When you apply to postsecondary schools, they often offer admission-based or entry scholarships. Sometimes they require an award profile or supplementary forms. Other times, you are automatically considered based on your application. When you apply to a university or college, check for the awards and whether or not they require a separate application. If you don’t receive any entrance scholarships, don’t worry! There are plenty of in-course scholarships to apply for based on your GPA or your involvement and leadership.

Scholarships From Outside Organizations

Though the quality of your scholarship applications is important, I would argue quantity is just as important. Even if you are a brilliant student, talented artist, or an amazing athlete, the large, national scholarships are extremely competitive. Therefore, it is a good idea to apply to smaller, local scholarships. Find postsecondary scholarships offered through banks, local companies, charities, and other organizations. take a look at the TD Community Leadership Scholarship (opening in September for the 2020/2021 cycle) and RBC Scholarships. Additionally, these websites can help you find the scholarships you’re looking for:

While most major scholarships are offered at the start of the school year—geared towards high-school students applying for early admission—there are smaller scholarships available year-round. These are often funded through outside organizations. Keep an eye out on awards pages, your school’s guidance newsletter, and scholarship websites.


Unlike merit-based scholarships, bursaries and grants generally take your financial situation into consideration. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, apply for bursaries, grants, and loans through your school or government assistance programs. In Canada, you can apply for student grants and loans with your province or territory of residence. While you have to repay loans with interest, you do not need to pay back bursaries or grants. Additionally, how much you receive is dependent on your family income, tuition, living expenses, and if you have dependents or a disability, etc. Check the Canadian government website to see the programs you are eligible for and how to apply.


If you apply for scholarships, bursaries, grants, or loans, and you’re wondering now what? What else can I do to afford tuition costs? Consider different ways to earn money online. Many young people regularly earn money by selling items on eBay or Amazon, offer virtual services, or do freelance work.

Draws and Surveys: 

Low time investment – low to medium monetary return

Fill out surveys. Subscribe to newsletters to enter free draws for cash prizes. Collect air mile points, gift cards, or other benefits. The chance of winning is often low, but it doesn’t hurt to try. In fact, some of these draws are targeted at students. As long as you qualify, there are hundreds of others to enter.


Medium to high time investment – medium to high monetary return + exposure

Do people compliment you as being exceptionally good at drawing? Or playing the flute? Or you’re a competitive swimmer or ballroom dancer? If you have a particular skill or talent, then enter a local, provincial, national, or international contest in these categories. You can gain exposure and accolades while earning prize money. Not all contests offer monetary awards. However, you gain experience and opportunities by applying your knowledge and skills. 

Social Media:

Very high time investment – low monetary return + experience + opportunities

These days, people turn to the powers of social media as a tool for sharing their skills and ideas. It helps in building a reputation and audience for their work while earning extra money on the side. If you have a particular interest or skill set, consider creating an art Instagram or starting your own Booktube channel. It’s incredibly difficult to make money in these markets in the beginning. However, it can be beneficial for gaining experience and shaping marketable skills in the future. Especially if you are heading into a creative industry. Starting early allows you to experiment, make mistakes, and learn. And who knows? You might make some money if you’re lucky!


While there are many awesome ways to afford tuition costs, it can be easy to miss out on important deadlines. I recommend creating a spreadsheet or a document that you update with information on scholarships, draws, or contests. Keep a file for the dates, requirements, and application information so you don’t miss out. Good luck!