Website ScholarshipsCanada has one goal, to match scholarships and bursaries with students who are enrolled in or heading to post secondary. It highlights nearly 100,000 scholarships worth $200 million every year, but CEO and founder Chris Wilkins estimates millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed simply because no one applies.
“As my mom used to say, ‘If you don’t try you can’t win.'”
Wilkins says you don’t need to be in financial need or on the honour roll.
“For 86 per cent of the scholarships in the database, they do not require marks at all. It’s field of study, interest, location of study. Some are obviously connected to colleges or universities but the majority of scholarships do not require marks at all,” Wilkins said.
What you do need is time. Wilkins says some scholarship applications are as simple as filling out a form online, while others require references and a portfolio.
“It might be an investment of an hour or two but the payoff might be five grand. So $5,000 an hour – that’s not bad.”
Kerri Chalmers is a mother of two and a second-year business administration student at NAIT in Edmonton. She has cashed in on five awards and scholarships worth $5,300. Chalmers found them on Facebook and the website for NAIT, which awards $6 million per year in scholarships and bursaries with few going unclaimed.
Chalmers admits applying can seem daunting, but there are a few shortcuts.
“It’s intimidating to think of writing 10 essays for 10 different scholarships but you can have a core of information that’s the same – that’s about you and your story – and then highlight parts of your story that are what that selection process is looking for and that’s where you would change it a bit. But having the bones the same would be important.”
One of the scholarships she received was for family members of former service members. She received another $100 from a case competition she participated in.
“Every bit helps,” Chalmers said. “It’s made a huge impact, a huge impact. It’s taken a massive load of stress off my family actually being able to afford to have the kids in daycare and not wonder where the next bill payment is going to come from.”
ScholarshipsCanada does not charge for posting scholarships and bursaries on its site. Revenue is generated through banner ads, email campaigns and feature scholarships.