Going to School: What Financial Aids Can You Access?

Sarah NantaisBlogs

About the Author
Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais is a Virtual Help Desk Navigator at Campus Manitoba. She contributes to "The Navigator," our monthly blog focused on student life.

piggy bank on side with coins spilling out

Have you saved enough?

Many careers require you to have post-secondary education of some kind. Remember, ‘post-secondary’ means any education after high school. This includes apprenticeship, college, university or any other sort of formal training. While you’re trying to navigate just which path you need to take to reach your career goals you may find yourself wondering: who’s going to pay for it? There are financial aid options that you can, and should, consider. If you’ve got a dream, a goal, don’t let money be a barrier. Think long and hard about what it is you want to do. Research all the paths that can get you to that finish line.

For some people it’s taking a gap year and working like mad. For others it’s taking out a student loan either with their bank or from the government. There are even those lucky few who can depend on their parents or guardians to give them a helping hand. Whichever category you fall into, the fact remains that you have options. We’ll go over the most common paths here so you can get an idea of what you’re getting into.

Manitoba Student Aid

Accessing student loans, or student financial aid as it’s sometimes called, through the government is one of the most common paths that students take. Yours truly took out student loans for all of my university career. While the word loan can sound scary and a little bit intimidating, it’s not that bad. There are federal bursaries you might qualify for if you qualify for a loan. A bursary or grant is money that does not need to be repaid at the end of your schooling, provided you don’t have changes to your situation. Don’t forget about part-time student loans too! There’s a lot of information out there and the repayment plans are very straightforward. Keep in mind the following to make the application process easier:

  • Are you eligible for Manitoba Student Aid? Many a wasted afternoon filling out applications can be saved by reviewing the requirements.
  • Manitoba Student Aid is not one loan: there is a provincial portion and a federal portion. This is important to remember for repayment.
  • There are 2 ways to apply. If you have special circumstances, consider a paper application and get it in early.
  • There’s even a handy assessment chart you can look at to get an idea of what you might be eligible for.
  • Keep in mind there are bursaries and other funding options through Manitoba Student Aid, if you qualify.

Bank Loans

Sometimes students don’t qualify for government student loans. That doesn’t mean that you are out of options. Maybe the gap year, that we’ll look at next, won’t work for you. That’s okay. Like I said before, not every option is going to work for every person.

Bank loans, or student lines of credit, are another alternative. Sometimes people use both government student loans along with a student line of credit. If you plan to do this, check with Manitoba Student Aid to see if having a line of credit will impact your eligibility with them. When considering other loans you should review the information available. All that info comes from the Government of Canada, who gives out the federal portion of student loans, so it’s pretty legit. Make sure you do your research before you make any final decisions!  More information is always better than not enough information.

The Gap Year(s)

battered for hire sign

Work a little, save a little

It’s not a crime to take a year off and work. This option isn’t considered as often as it should be, especially among those who just don’t know what it is they want to do. You’re done school for the first time in 12 years. This is a perfect time to breathe a little bit and take a look at your future a bit more objectively. Taking that step back is a great way to avoid scholastic burnout and gives you a chance to get your feet wet in the working world. Do you have an idea what industry you’d like to work in when your education is done? Maybe you can find an entry position so that you can get a taste of what working there is like.

Experience is invaluable. If you’re able, you can consider volunteering your time. You shouldn’t have to rush right into school if you can help it. If you are feeling pressure to jump right into post-secondary school take a deep breath. Once you’ve collected yourself, compile a list of the reasons why you should or shouldn’t go to post-secondary right away. This is your life: your decision.

While a gap year (or three) isn’t for everyone, it is a useful tool to help you put your future in perspective all while saving some money.

Scholarships and Bursaries

Another major source of funds can come from the financial aid office at your school. The requirements for these awards will depend on different criteria: some of it is based on financial need, some are based on academic success and some are based on sports. There are some external scholarship searches you can do as well. Now, look, I like you, so I’ve gathered up the links for the financial aid options at Manitoba schools. You’re welcome.

These links should get you to all the awards offices across Manitoba. It’s up to you to filter through them and see what applies to you and your situation.

Keep Your Arms and Legs

Continuing your education doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. While it may mean you have to work a little harder in high school or work a little harder at a paying job, it doesn’t mean that it’s out of reach. Manitoba has some of the lowest tuition fees in all of Canada. Granted the article is from 2014 and things have changed a bit, but we’re still inexpensive compared to the rest of the country.

Don’t let finances stand between you and your educational goals. There are options out there for you. Don’t be afraid to invest your blood, sweat and tears. This is for your future.

About “The Navigator”

“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!