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Student Aid 101

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Student Aid 101

Published: 10/08/2013

» Parents and Education

Whether a student is thinking of getting their degree, becoming a tradesperson or training for a specific job, there are a lot of good options to explore.

The new year is also an opportune time for students to look at funding available to them as they pursue

their post-secondary goals. In Alberta, students have access to scholarships, bursaries and student aid when financing their post-secondary education.


Applying for Student Aid

Once students decide to apply for admission to a post-secondary program, the next step is figuring out how they will pay for their education. Depending on their circumstances and program of study, they may be eligible for student aid. Students can start examining the funding options available to them by visiting studentaid.alberta.ca website. Over 80 per cent of students who apply for student aid do so online.



This website, launched in June 2012, makes it easier for these students to get information, services and supports from Student Aid Alberta. It takes students through the stages of applying for student loans and grants, getting their money, and repaying their loans using flexible repayment options. Students can save time by easily finding all the information they need on one site.


When students apply to Student Aid Alberta, they are automatically considered for both provincial and federal student funding. Many students who apply online will find out if they’re eligible for funding and how much they can expect to receive as soon as they’ve submittedtheir application. Alberta is the only province in Canada to offer this realtime response to students.


If students have questions about their eligibility for loans and grants or require assistance with their loan application they can also contact the Student Aid Service Centre at 1.855.606.2096. The call centre boasts improvements like expanded hours of operation and better response times. Alberta supports an estimated 54,000 post-secondary students with student aid through loans and grants.


Scholarships and Bursaries

Students can also get a financial boost from Alberta’s generous scholarship programs. There are hundreds of scholarships, awards and grants available to help finance a student’s education in Alberta. Scholarships and bursaries are offered by the Alberta government, post-secondary institutions, private industry and service organizations.

Many scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement. However, other awards are based on athletic involvement, leadership, community service, area of interest and the institution the student plans on attending.


A bursary is a monetary award available to assist students in the pursuit of their studies. Eligibility is usually based on clearly demonstrated financial need and/or satisfactory academic achievement. Bursaries are intended to supplement educational resources such as government student loans, employment earnings, scholarships, externally administered bursaries and parental contributions.


Alberta awards more merit-based funding than all other provinces combined. In the last 30 years, Alberta has awarded $800 million to almost 500,000 students through Alberta scholarship programs. To learn more about the wide range of scholarships and bursaries available, students can visit alis.alberta.ca.


High School Students

Scholarships are available to students at a range of educational levels – from Grade 9 to apprenticeship and graduate program levels. Highlighted below are just a couple of Alberta government scholarships, which high school students applying to a post-secondary institution can consider. Students are encouraged to visit alis.alberta.ca and tradesecrets.alberta.ca for full details on all of the scholarships available to them.


Rutherford Scholarship

Over 12,000 Alexander Rutherford scholarships are available to high school students. This award recognizes and rewards academic achievement at the high school level and encourages students to pursue post-secondary studies.The scholarship has a value of up to $2,500.


The scholarships are awarded to students achieving a minimum average of 75.0 per cent in five designated courses in at least one grade: Grade 10, 11, or 12. The minimum average, value of the award, and courses that can be used for the scholarship application depend on the year the student graduated from high school. Recipients must be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary program of at least one semester in length or be an apprenticeship student.


The application deadlines for this scholarship are: May 1 for September entry and December 1 for January entry. Further information is available at alis.alberta.ca/et/fo/pay/scholarships/info


Trade Scholarships

Scholarships for high school students in the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) recognize their accomplishments and encourage completion of their apprenticeship training. These scholarships, valued at $1,000 each, were expanded to include students who have completed Career and Technology Studies apprenticeship pathways in the trades. This allows wider access to the 500 scholarships that are available.

Apprentices can find more information, and apply for scholarships, online by visiting tradesecrets.alberta.ca. 


-First published in Canada's Education magazine Winter 2013. Submitted byAlberta Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education