Scholarships are beneficial as tuition rises

·2 min read

Since kindergarten, individuals have been studying, retaining information and moving up in grade levels to reach the ultimate goal. And that is being able to walk up on stage to the podium and receive the high school diploma. While it may only be a piece of paper, it signifies 12 years of hard work and success. As students hit the books to increase their marks and cram in additional classes to cross over the finish line, they can’t help but wonder and worry about the future. More importantly, their post-secondary studies and tuition fees and how they will afford it all.

Midway through grade 12 or earlier, most students have figured which career path they’d like to pursue. The challenge is choosing a post-secondary institute and coming up with the money to afford tuition, book fees and housing. According to a five-year study completed by Statistics Canada, approximately half who graduated from post-secondary still had student debt after completing their program. The amount of debt varied depending on their course of studies. College graduates accumulated the lowest debt sitting around $11,500 after completion, and the professional graduates who’d received a bachelor’s degree averaged around $60,300 of debt. Overall, 64 percent of those who graduated with debt still had outstanding school loans three years after graduating.

To help alleviate some of the financial strain to pay for post-secondary education, high school students should be checking into grants and scholarships that are available year-round. There are literally thousands of scholarships available; it just takes time and research on the internet to find them. Another alternative is talking to your high school principal or counsellor to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that most scholarships become available in the early spring for those entering post-secondary in September. All application forms will outline the eligibility requirements, and depending on which ones, some can be applied for long before you enter further studies. The great part about scholarships, you can apply for multiple different ones in the beginning and throughout your post-secondary studies. A few good places to start checking what’s available is through the Alberta government website at alis or student aid. A few others are Scholarships Canada and Scholar Tree, which lists thousands just on their website alone. Another important tip would be to search out local scholarships from the area businesses. Many medium to large companies offer scholarships that will help you on your way, whether as a down payment for tuition or pay for educational materials. Those who take the time to see what’s available and make an effort in filling out the applications can reap the rewards.

Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press