Funding and awards

A lot of students think applying for financial aid is scary or overwhelming, but that is far from the truth.

Ravicha, 4th year Science and Business

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How I applied for bursaries at UWaterloo

By Ravicha, 4th year Science and Business

A lot of students think applying for financial aid is scary or overwhelming but that is far from the truth. UWaterloo's financial aid programs have really gone a long way in supporting my journey and making it a lot easier for me to finally make it across the finish line. 

The process is fairly simple and can be done through one form. There are also bursaries available if you're part-time student as well. A tip that has helped me is having a document that has a list of all your responses so that you're able to re-use some of the work you've done on the bursary application instead of starting from scratch each term. 

I've always recommended applying for bursaries even if you think it's competitive because you never know unless you try 🙂  Some bursaries have essay questions but the general application can be completed in 10 minutes so it's not even a huge time commitment, but it can make a big difference. 

Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA)

Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) assist students with government funding, awards, bursaries, and scholarships.

Government Funding

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a mix of grants and loans for students. Through your OSAP application, you may have access to a mix of different financial aid programs, depending on your circumstances. Visit how to apply for OSAP for more details.

If you are an out of province student, you are required to apply for government aid through your home province. Visit out of province student aid for more details.  

Awards and Scholarships

There are a variety of awards and scholarships available to students at the University of Waterloo. Some of these awards are specific to the students in the Faculty of Science. There are two databases created by SAFA to help students find awards they qualify for.

Tips for Scholarship Research

  • Searching for only Science or program-related awards may limit your search results 
    • Many awards are available to any full-time undergraduate student and have eligibility factors separate from studies
    • Broaden search to find more awards
      • Can narrow search by affiliation but that will also cut down what awards are visible and may remove some which are applicable
  • Do your research
    • Take time to go through the available awards and bursaries and make a list of potential applications
  • Don't sell yourself short
    • Think about your experiences leading up to this term and draw on them in applications
    • Apply even if you think you might not get it!

Entrance scholarships

You'll be awarded one of these scholarships (no application is necessary) if:

  • you're admitted to full-time first-year degree studies at University of Waterloo and you're beginning post-secondary studies for the first time in fall.
  • your mid-May admission average is 85% or more.
  • you meet the conditions of your offer.
Admission average* Scholarship name Amount
95%+ President's Scholarship of Distinction
  • $2,000 Entrance Scholarship
  • $1,500 International Experience Award* or
  • $1,500 Research Award*, or both
90 - 94.9% President's Scholarship $2,000 Entrance Scholarship
85 - 89.9% Merit Scholarship $1,000 Entrance Scholarship
Demonstrated academic merit Faculty of Science Entrance Scholarship $500 Entrance Scholarship

*Based on your mid-May marks. For eligibility or for more information about your admission average and how it's calculated.

Note: These awards are available in your upper years if you choose to claim them and if you complete your first year with at least an 80% average.

Additionally, a small number of named Entrance Scholarships specific to the Faculty of Science can be found in the undergraduate awards database.  There are a number of university-wide scholarships available to students who meet certain criteria. For more information, visit the Student Awards and Financial Aid website.   

International Students entrance scholarship

Several scholarships are awarded at $10,000 each. To be eligible you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Open to international students admitted to Year One of a full-time, undergraduate degree program at Waterloo
  • Academic performance (minimum 90% admission average)
  • Admission information form
  • Results of Euclid Mathematics Contest (Mathematics and Computer Science applicants)
  • Results of Accounting & Financial Management Admissions Assignment (Accounting & Financial Management applicants)


Bursaries are non-repayable awards issued to students who demonstrate financial need. There is a range of bursaries offered by SAFA, please check their website to determine which bursaries you may be eligible for. 

Work programs

In addition to awards, scholarships and bursaries, SAFA funds various work programs to provide full-time and part-time on-campus positions. Students looking for full-time positions (both co-op and non co-op) should visit the work placement program, while students looking for part-time jobs while in classes should visit the work-study program or international work-study program.

President's Upper Year awards

*New application procedure: here is how to apply

  • Look for undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Once you have found a research position and connected with the research supervisor, complete the President’s Research Award online form.
  • Full eligibility details and application instructions can be found on the application/claim form.

Other funding opportunities

Waterloo Science Endowment Fund (WatSEF)

Waterloo Science Endowment Fund (WatSEF) aims to enhance the learning environment of Waterloo Science by ensuring the most recent and advanced laboratory equipment are available in Science, Optometry, and Pharmacy labs. For more information about WatSEF and how you can get involved, please visit the WatSEF website.

Faculty of Science Foundation (FSF)

The Faculty of Science Foundation's (FSF) mission is to enhance the scholarly life of Science students at the University of Waterloo through a variety of means. FSF provides funding opportunities for events and awards to benefit Science students. For more information about FSF and how to receive funding or get involved, please visit the FSF website.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Students who are interested in conducting research, may want to consider applying to for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award. The award program is designed for undergraduate students to nurture their interest and fully develop their potential for research, in addition to encouraging students to peruse graduate studies. For more information about the award, please visit the NSERC website. Additional details can be found on the Waterloo Research site.

Each department has its own process when applying for NSERC. Biology, Chemistry, and Physics all have their own website outlining the process. For Earth and Environmental Sciences, please contact Sue Fisher.