Religious and Theological Studies Scholarship Guide
Need money for school? Most universities and colleges--whether specifically Christian or not--offer an array of student scholarships and bursaries for religious and theological studies programs.
There are three main categories of financial aid available for religious and theological studies students in Canada: scholarships, bursaries and loans. Scholarships typically range in value from $250 - $5,000, may be renewable and are based on outstanding academic achievement, or a combination of outstanding academic achievement and leadership qualities. Bursaries, however, are based on financial need. Student loans and grants and commercial bank loans may also be available, but need to eventually be repaid. Work-study programs (involving part-time work on campus for full-time students) is another source of money for school.
Each of the above financial aid categories can come from internal or external sources. These awards may be offered internally by the university or college, or they may be external, i.e. from high schools, local businesses and national chains, or charitable foundations.
Universities and colleges offering religious and theological studies often receive gifts and donations from benefactors, which allow the schools to offer internal scholarships, bursaries and even individual loans. Entrance scholarships--for high school students or students from other post-secondary institutions--may be designated as either specifically for new students, transfer students or specific cultural groups. Other awards may be available for specific programs or interests (such as athletics, leadership) or based on Christian life and service (for example church service merit awards or church matching grants). In some cases, no application is required as you are automatically considered when you apply to a given institution; others must be applied for and have requirements such as a student essay and specific application deadlines. Online application forms may be available on a school's website. Each university and college generally develops their own guidelines for eligibility and award amounts, so you should consult the guidelines for each scholarship, bursary or loan in order to understand the eligibility criteria. These awards are not cash handouts: rather, they are applied to your account towards the cost of tuition.
External: If the university or college is recognized as a designated educational institution under the Canada Student Loan program, then applicants are eligible for government student loans. Often payments do not begin until you finish your program, and the interest is commonly lower than for other types of loans. For students with no established credit record, it is usually easier to get student loans than other kinds of loans. You can obtain information on the Canada Student Loans Program from your high school career counsellor or the university's or college's student services or financial aid department. As well, each province has a program that offers financial assistance to students. If you intend to use the student loan program, you should start the process early. Applications for federal or provincial loans should be made directly to the designated governmental department or ministry. The Canadian Government also provides both merit-based scholarships and need-based bursaries to individuals and students who are members of specific groups (for example, Aboriginals or members of the Canadian Forces). All provinces encourage students to apply on the internet, but application forms are usually also available at your high school counsellor's office.
Researching Scholarships, Bursaries and Loans:
Start your search by talking to your high school career counsellor to learn what kinds of scholarships and bursaries are available for your particular program interest. Often high schools will offer awards to the best students or those most involved in club activities, such as various church or choir groups.
Most universities and colleges offer entrance awards either directly or through benefactors and foundations that support them. You can contact an admissions advisor at the school or program department itself or look on the institution's website to identify the awards that are offered. Some scholarships and bursaries are program-specific and are limited to applicants to particular majors, diplomas or certificates within the field of religious and theological studies.
Many local businesses and national chains--and don't forget your parents' employers!--will offer some kind of funding, either in the form of scholarships or bursaries. These businesses offer awards as a way of showing their support for the local community, so don't overlook this opportunity.
And don't forget community groups in your home-town, county or region that are involved in the business of supporting students (e.g., the Chamber of Commerce, Business Development Association, Girl Guides, Catholic Women's League ).
Finally, there are a variety of charitable organizations, from local to national, that provide literally millions of dollars of awards to post-secondary students.