Your reading list

College bound? What you need to know

Those pondering post secondary education must have their finances in order; here are tips on getting started

Now is the time of year when many high school students about to graduate, and the parents who help them, as well as students who recently graduated, start planning for post secondary school.

For those interested in agriculture, there are many options to mull over. According to an article in the American magazine Modern Farmer, four areas in agriculture are experiencing rapid growth and jobs are plentiful for university and college graduates: agricultural and biological engineering, soil science, agricultural economics and entrepreneurial start-ups for the tech savvy.

Students might want to set their sights on one of these fields, but questions about financing and how it affects housing, textbooks, and food have to be addressed.

Planning the financial aspects sounds daunting, but resources are in place to help.

With tuition rates higher than ever, students need to educate themselves about the many ways to chip away at fees through grants, scholarships, bursaries and student loans.

Students should open a post-secondary student account at a local bank. They’ll need identification plus proof-of-enrolment at the chosen school. It’s possible to open a regular account first and change it to a post-secondary student account later for those who haven’t decided on a school yet.

These accounts offer low or no service charges and access to emergency funding such as student lines of credit or low-limit credit cards.

As well, banks provide advice on using Registered Education Savings Plans and navigating provincial and federal student loans.

Students will need their own bank accounts from which to pay tuition and other university fees, and they may be advised to open a cheque and savings account: one for deposits and savings and the other for payments and easy access to cash for living expenses while at school.

Each province has its own site for student loans. They are easy to navigate and have information about federal grants students might automatically qualify for just by applying for student aid.

Only loans need repayment: grants, scholarships and bursaries are only repaid in cases where the student leaves school or doesn’t meet conditions, such as maintaining a certain grade point average.

For more information on student loans visit Click on Provincial and Territorial Information under the Student Loans & Grants tab.

Most universities offer entrance scholarships to qualified students who apply.

Other scholarships require a separate application.

Universities award entrance scholarships based on grades with some schools requiring a minimum 70 to 75 percent grade average to be considered. Other schools with more students in competition for admission will ask for higher grades to qualify.

Bursaries are also offered to incoming students based on financial need, but these must be applied for separately.

Christine Klaray, director of student services at the University of British Columbia, says there are two similar sounding but very different entrance scholarships students need to know about.

“Students will be automatically considered for the UBC Major Entrance Scholarship if they apply online by a certain date.

The UBC Entrance Award supports academically qualified applicants who would not otherwise be able to attend without significant financial assistance.

“This award is separate from the Major Entrance Scholarship and requires a separate application.”

UBC offers more than 70 faculty-specific awards that recognize academic achievement, community engagement, social responsibility and contributions to campus and other students. Klaray says students who apply for these awards should have an A or higher average.

At the University of Saskatchewan, all entering students are automatically considered for guaranteed entrance scholarships based on entrance average, but it also offers awards that only AgBio students are eligible for.

These can be renewed every year up to $10,000 total.

“The dean’s office administers over $250,000 of award to undergraduate AgBio students every year,” says Jolana Piercy, academic operations assistant.

“The criteria of these awards vary, but most are based on academic averages from the previous year.”

The University of Guelph requires a minimum average of 85 percent for a $2,000 automatic entrance scholarship and 90 percent or higher for $3,000, but the Ontario Agricultural College also offers more than 350 other awards and bursaries, some requiring a minimum 70 percent average. The OAC is supported by alumni, donors and industry partners, who fund more than $650,000 in awards annually.

If scholarships, bursaries and loans aren’t enough to cover all a student’s expenses, campuses often have part-time jobs available for undergraduates.

“Our Student Financial Support Centre can assist students in applying for loans, scholarships and emergency funding,” says Jane Leadbetter, recruiter at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of ALES.

“Many part-time jobs are available on campus, and students can receive support for applying and searching for these jobs at Career and Placement Services.”

The U of S has jobs that students can apply for throughout the year, including the summer months, in positions such as student departmental assistants, student ambassadors, camp leaders and barn workers, along with retail jobs in the bookstore or campus food establishments.

UBC offers many ways for students to gain work experience on campus in hospitality, retail or as a residence adviser. It also has a Work Learn Program, which offers significant work experience in a professional environment. Click on Build My Career at the UBC Student Services website for more details.

Visit your school’s student services website for more information on scholarships, bursaries, job applications and student loans.

About the author

M. Carolyn Black's recent articles


Stories from our other publications