How to pay for university

If you're like most students, you'll use multiple sources to pay for university.

It may take a bit of research, but there are many ways you can find money to help pay for school. Some sources are based on grades or financial need. Some you need to apply for, some you may receive automatically while others are only for first-year students.

What is financial need?

While scholarships are generally based on academic achievement, most loans, grants, and bursaries are based on financial need. But what does "financial need" mean? It's the difference between your costs (tuition, textbooks, housing and food, personal expenses, transportation) and what you and your family are expected to contribute toward your education.

How Waterloo can help in first year

  Based on Need to be repaid? Application required? Value When available
Entrance scholarships Academic or personal achievement No For a small number of scholarships $500 - $80,000 First year
Entrance bursary (Ontario students) Financial need No Yes, apply by April 15 $500 - $4,000 First year
Waterloo bursary (Canadian students) Financial need No Yes, once you're at Waterloo Varies First year and upper years
Government grants Financial need No Yes Varies First year and upper years
Government student loans Financial need Yes Yes Varies First year and upper years

Other sources of money for first year

  Based on Need to be repaid? Application required? When available
Your savings (and/or your family contributions) n/a n/a n/a First year and upper years
Non-University of Waterloo scholarships Financial need and/or academic or personal achievement No Usually First year and upper years
Registered Educational Savings Plans (RESP) Your parents or guardians' investment No n/a First year and upper years
Part-time job during university n/a No Yes First year and upper years

What about after first year?

You can continue to use government assistance, bursaries, scholarships, part-time jobs, RESPs, and any personal savings to pay for your upper years. There are also new sources of funding after first year.

  Based on Need to be repaid? Application required? Value When available
Upper-year Waterloo scholarships and awards Academic or personal achievement No Yes Varies After first year
Co-op work term earnings Your program, how far through your degree you are, and your employer No n/a $33,000 to $90,000 during your degree After first year for most programs
Work-study programs (flexible part-time on-campus jobs) Financial need No Yes up to $1,500 for a four-month term Usually after first year
Emergency bursary for international students Financial need No Yes up to $1,500 for a four-month term After first year

Government loans and grants

Ontario students

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) provides loans and grants for Ontario residents. You can quickly get an idea of possible OSAP assistance.

You should apply for OSAP even if you don't think you're eligible. Many factors affect OSAP.

Students from outside Ontario

Learn about student assistance for Canadian students outside Ontario and for U.S. students.

Non-Waterloo scholarships

Below are a couple of websites where you can research scholarships. If you work part time, see if your employer offers scholarships for university students. You can also have your parents or guardians check to see if their employers offer scholarships.

Co-op and part-time jobs

  • Waterloo's co-op program is not just an incredible way to gain work experience, it's a great way to earn money. You can earn thousands of dollars during your work terms.
  • Work-study programs provide part-time and full-time summer or co-op jobs for students in financial need. There are also hundreds of other part-time jobs on campus and in the city.

Financial support statement for Ontario students

We're committed to helping you make sure that lack of money doesn't get in the way of your success. In accordance with Ontario's Student Access Guarantee, Waterloo ensures that Ontario students in need have access to the resources they require for tuition, books, and mandatory fees. Students are required to seek financial support from all sources, including family, jobs, loans, and government support programs.

Learn more