These websites require you to create a profile that will help match you with scholarships that you qualify for. Each has their own database containing thousands of scholarships and awards, with instructions and links to applications and registration websites.
Types of Scholarships and Awards
When it comes to paying for your education, the most commonly mentioned source of funds is OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program). OSAP is a loan, provided by the government, that will need to be repaid when you graduate from your post-secondary program. Like other student loans available through banks, the interest rates are generally low, but they do exist, even though with OSAP they will only accrue after you have left full-time education.
Scholarships are free money, never needing repayment, and are often awarded on the basis of some criteria (ex. high marks, extensive community service, leadership, athletics, etc.). The two key types of scholarships are as follows:
Competition scholarships often involve submitting essays or other products that demonstrate your suitability for the award. It's important to keep in mind what organization is offering the award and for what purpose. A number of memorial awards will look to find candidates that match the qualities of the individual being honoured, so do your homework!
Some of these will also require recommendations from teachers, coaches, community organizations, or others that you have touched during your high school life. Don't be shy about telling these people what the award is about, and what qualities you need them to emphasize in your recommendation letter / phone reference. They will be relieved to have a "roadmap" and you'll get the recommendation you deserve.
Contest awards usually don't require a complicated selection process or a significant application package. They are generally quicker and less involved, and reflect smaller awards (but they can add up!). Generally, these awards are draws based on participation in some program (like attending an event, or signing up for a service like studentawards.com) and you should enter as many as you qualify for.
In addition to these types of scholarships that you apply for, many colleges and universities have "entrance" or "admissions" scholarships based on academic achievement. If your admissions average is within a certain range (varies by post-secondary institution and program), then you will be automatically be offered the scholarship.
What does it mean when a scholarship is "renewable"?
Renewable scholarships are awards that you can continue to collect in future years of your post-secondary program. You should take care to note the conditions for renewal. Most scholarships that list renewal options require that you maintain a certain average, continue in a certain program, or maintain a relationship with the foundation or institution that originally issued your scholarship. If you fail to meet the conditions, you will lose the chance to renew your scholarship in future years.
What's a "bursary"?
Bursaries are another often mentioned source of financial aid, and reflect a grant that will allow a person to pay for their education. Like scholarships, you need to apply for most bursaries. The line between bursaries and scholarships is a little blurred, but most bursaries require a certain condition be met (be from a certain community, be entering a certain program, have a demonstrated financial need, etc.). If you meet the conditions, you qualify and should apply for the bursary.
Every year, thousands of dollars worth of scholarships and bursaries go unawarded due to a lack of applicants. You lose nothing by applying, and have a better chance of success than you know. If you want help with your bursary or scholarship application, make an appointment to see Mr. Wires in Student Services.