Scholarships, Bursaries, Loans, and Awards: What's the Difference?

Which ones are right for your needs? Here's a brief breakdown of the different types of funding
by Sophia Leonard

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With so many awards available to students, it's easy to get confused. When you're researching how to fund your education, you will probably see different scholarships, bursaries, loans, and awards on offer for students. What's the difference? Which ones are right for your needs? Here's a brief breakdown of the different types of funding:

Scholarships
Traditionally, scholarships are based on academic merit, such as an entrance scholarship which is awarded based on the grade average from high school. Modern usage of the term, however, is much more liberal, with providers of non-academic awards using the term to describe any financial prize that will be used towards tuition payment. Scholarship application procedures are different for each scholarship, but can include a request for your academic transcripts. Some scholarships, such as entrance scholarships, don't even require an application. Look at as many scholarships as you can to see what works for you!

Bursaries
A bursary is typically an award for a student with financial need. Bursaries may have academic requirements, but are generally focused on helping students who do not have the resources to pay for school on their own. Applications for bursaries typically require you to show why you are in need of the assistance and how great your need is.

Loans
Student loans make up a significant amount of student aid. Student loans are typically provided by the government (provincial or federal) or a bank. The terms of a student loan vary depending on who's providing it and who's receiving it. Student loans are typically paid back after the student completes or leaves schooling, with interest charged on the loan amount.

Other awards
This is a catchall for any awards that don't fit in the above categories. This may include contest-style awards or prizes from corporate sponsors.

Remember - always read the eligibility criteria for any scholarship, bursary, or award! You may find you are a great candidate for an award you wouldn't have otherwise applied to. Good luck!

Not sure where to start? Check out ScholarshipsCanada and make an account to see which scholarships could be right for you!

Modified on April 15, 2014