Student Financing Terms 101

By University of Waterloo Modified on March 11, 2021

Understanding the most common financing terms you'll need to know.

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Understanding the most common financing terms you'll need to know.

Starting university can bring many intimidating decisions, but finance shouldn't be one of them! Lucky for you, there are so many opportunities to get started. Step one? Understanding all the new terms.

Scholarships vs bursaries

As you make the transition from high school to university, you've likely seen the words "scholarships" and "bursaries" and wondered: what's the difference?

Scholarships are financial awards based on academic, athletic, or personal achievements. Depending on the scholarship, some are awarded for a single year while some can be renewable based on maintaining a certain average. The best part about them? You don't pay them back!

There are different sources of scholarships, ranging from those offered by the university or college you're interested in to organizations and donors around the community. To start your search today, be sure to visit the website of the university or college you'd like to attend along with ScholarshipsCanada and Yconic.

The University of Waterloo's entrance scholarships are based on your entrance average for most programs. This is fairly common at most universities, meaning that the grades you've been working so hard for throughout high school can not only earn you an acceptance letter, but also some money! Some Waterloo programs also consider community involvement or performance in competitions like Waterloo's Euclid Mathematics Contest.

Bursaries also don't have to be paid back and are often distributed based on financial need rather than academic achievements. You may need to apply for bursaries as part of the application process.

Loans vs grants

A student loan is borrowed money that you eventually pay back. Often loans are distributed through the government (such as OSAP for Ontario students) but can also be arranged through your bank.

Grants, however, do not need to be paid back — in other words, no strings attached!

Always remember to keep track of specific loan or grant requirements so you don't miss any important criteria and conditions.

Work-study vs co-op

Chances are you're not only looking for ways to make money right now, but also throughout your years as a university student.

A work-study program offers you part-time work if you experience financial need. This not only lets you earn money on campus, but also allows you to easily work around your class schedule.

Also, if you're accepted into a co-op program, you'll have the chance to both earn money and gain valuable work experience. In Waterloo's co-op program, you'll normally alternate between four months in school and four months as a full-time paid employee of the organization you're working for.

For more useful tips, visit our ultimate guide to financing your university education.


Check out the Ultimate Guide to Financing Your Education

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