Canadian Universities Financial Aid: A Brief Guide

I'm a little partial against Canada. Blame American TV shows (How I met your mother, South Park, etc.) for this belief, and if you watch these shows too, I believe even you think a lot of funny stuff happens in Canada.

But the minute I started my research, hell, I was surprised. Canada is pretty cool (no pun intended). The UN ranks Canada as the 16th best country in the world to live in. Now that we have our biases and preconceived notions aside, we can focus on the higher education part. 

Canada is among few of the most popular destinations to study in the world, with first-rate schools. The universities in Canada are renowned for their high standards, safe (and significant, bustling) campuses, and educational excellence. 

A degree from a Canadian university is recognized worldwide, and as a result, international students who graduate from top universities in Canada enjoy successful and prosperous careers. Canada is undoubtedly one of the most famous and cost-effective (which is why you might find lots of Indians!) destinations worldwide. 

Of course, Scholarships and awards for international students are available at many Canadian institutions for students with exceptional results. After all, Canada spends more per capita on its education system than any other country in the G-7. 

The amount and type of award vary from one institution to another and depend on the student's academic excellence and leadership qualities as demonstrated by involvement in extracurricular and community activities. Obtaining a scholarship is competitive, and applications must be made directly to each school. 

Types Of Financial Aid

Scholarship/ Tuition Waiver:

Now this one depends on the student's merits and grades. Students may get a full or partial tuition fee. Some universities waiver the full tuition fee as well as his living expenses. Partial Scholarships are also available, from five to fifty percent of the tuition fee. The downside? If you get a scholarship, you can't screw around and bunk lectures; otherwise, The scholarship won't renew it. 


Many students prefer to work to pay their tuition (or at least part of their tuition). The teaching assistantship gives students opportunities to learn how to teach in exchange for tuition remission and often a stipend. In contrast, the student develops an excellent understanding of the course material. You get paid to pursue your degree! As a TA, you might have to: -

  • Teach or assist with one or more sections of a course
  • Run laboratory sessions
  • Grade undergraduate student exams and papers
  • Have regular office hours and meetings with students
  • Conduct study and review sessions

It's definitely not a free ride. You might find it overburdened at first. But on average, a TA is required to work about twenty hours per week, a commitment that is certainly manageable if you are up for it!


It is also a nominal grant allowed to students as an incentive to join the university. Canadian schools usually give around 500$ - 3000$ as bursary grant. Bursaries could be given out as emergency assistance for basic educational expenses if the student's original financial sources have fallen through. The best part is, they are allotted based on financial need and not 'exceptional academic standing'! 

Few Tips To Get Financial Aid

  • The early bird catches the worm. In this case, you are the bird, and the scholarship is the worm. Simply put, apply early to get the best scholarship options. 
  • An excellent Score (and I mean perfect score!). Keep this in mind for every exam - no matter how small it is (say, partial of any in course, assignments, etc.): because every single point counts. Don't let any getaway.
  • Not just that, put together examples of your leadership qualities and excellence in any extracurricular activities. It makes your case stronger. 
  • Excellent reference letters from your principal/teachers/employer. Applicants who get considered for a competitive program are already first class, so the letters will make you unique and stand out for students.

Financial Aid Provided By Some Canadian Universities

University of Alberta:

The University of Alberta offers 5 centenary scholarships (per student) with a value of $20,000 payable over 4 years for deserving students admitted from Indian high schools. As long as you get a GPA of at least 3.0, your scholarship will get renewed. 

Another option is the Alberta – India first-year excellence scholarship. This one gives a one-time scholarship valued at $3000. The university also has special funds reserved for IB and A levels. 

Carleton University, University of Guelph & University of Waterloo:

Depending on your academic standing, these universities offer a range of scholarships from $4000 to $30000 per year to even full tuition fees. However, your grades should remain good throughout the year. 

The application deadline is March 1, so pull up your socks.

Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

If you have high artistic potential and an impressive art portfolio, the university offers entrance awards ranging from $2000 - $5000. A rather picturesque opportunity, isn't it?

Ontario University

If you are among 75 of the world's best students, the university offers a scholarship worth $40000 each year for 4 years to pursue your doctoral studies at this prestigious university. 

Quebec Province 

Indian students hold an edge here. 29 Indian students having a masters or Ph.D. course at any university in this province can get a full tuition fee waiver. They also offer scholarships worth $25000 for 10 Indian academically excellent Indian students who have already enrolled in a postgraduate or doctoral program at any university in Quebec. 

Indian students who graduate with a postgraduate degree from any university in Quebec will be entitled to a certificate of citizenship of Quebec, as it is the only province, which manages its own immigration. Cool eh?

University of Toronto

Don't kid around too much with your school principal because the university of Toronto invites school principals to nominate their best student (not just studies, all-rounder types!). 

Financial need is an essential requirement for this international scholars program, covering the total cost of tuition with an allowance of transportation from home country, living expenses, books, and other essential expenses. Be a good boy, and as always, the awards are renewable.  

If nothing works for you, however, don't fret, at least not yet. There are many non-university-funding options available for international students. The good thing is, not many people know about them. 

For example, The Canadian Bureau for international education offers a range of awards for non-Canadians on behalf of many partners. The recipient is based on an essay highlighting the advantages of studying in Canada. 

So start googling already! 

The foreign affairs and International Trade offers scholarships like the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Programme (CCSP) and Government of Canada Awards Programme for research, student exchange, and postdoctoral fellowship.