How far would you go for free money?


By Matthew Le Blanc

Each year thousands of students miss out on bursaries and scholarships that could help ease the financial pains of post-secondary education. Some students hear the word scholarship and assume they are unattainable, while others have no clue such things even exist or how to go about getting one.

Director of Financial Aid, Awards and International Education Services, Marilyn Micucci, says hundreds of bursaries and scholarships are available to all students in varying situations, and all some of them take is a one page letter explaining their need for financial assistance.

“Some students will explain why they are requesting support and sometimes students are single parents with young children or could be a student returning to school,” explains Micucci. “Some students that apply receive OSAP and are only awarded a certain amount of money and not enough to meet the needs of all their expenses, especially for students who are living on their own.”

Micucci says the criteria for each scholarship and bursary varies depending on the donor. For example, it may be a specific GPA they’re looking for, or a combination of grades, financial need and some form of community involvement. There are also some available specifically for students with disabilities and those attending school part-time.

In August, only 266 tuition bursaries were given out, which is about 14 per cent higher than last year. Even though there are students applying, Micucci says a lot of applications are filled out incorrectly, ultimately being rejected.

“We had a number of applications that were submitted that didn’t have a budget with them or have the one page letter,” says Micucci. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough staff to contact all the students and explain what’s missing, so we tend not to be able to process their applications.”

Micucci assures that any funding unclaimed remains in the scholarship and bursary account and is carried over to the following semester.

Although she finds the situation disappointing, Micucci encourages students to put out the little effort it requires to apply.

“I always say it’s just one night of your life and you could end up getting $500 or $1000, so it’s worth the time to invest,” says Micucci.

Student or not, such a sum is nothing to scoff at. A thousand dollars could go a long way in funding an education. It only costs a few hours and a piece of paper.

Bursaries and scholarships for the winter semester open Nov. 1 and close Jan. 12.

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