Beat the bank, apply for bursaries

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: FANSHAWE COLLEGE STUDENT AWARDS
Fanshawe graduate Rebecca Molly, winner of the Presidentís Prize Award, takes a photo with retired president Dr. Howard Rundle at graduation.

One of the toughest things about pursuing a post-secondary education is also arguably the most fundamental — tuition.

With tuition fees constantly on the rise, many students turn to government loans and hope scholarships come through.

For students who fall in the financial need bracket, schools recognize this burden and create opportunities to help out.

“Everyone should have a right to have education,” said Jason Drury, manager of Fanshawe's Student Awards department. “It's very important to Fanshawe to be able to find opportunities to assist students with financial these financial barriers so they can pursue their education.”

Recently, the Student Awards department announced it would be adding certificate and graduate certificate programs onto the eligibility list of potential bursary benefactors. Previously, only diploma and degree students were able to apply.

“There was a big demographic who were being left out of the [bursary] program, so we located opportunities [and] expanded opportunities so it was more inclusive to students,” said Drury.

The change came when Student Awards started receiving more opportunities.

“[In the past,] we didn't actually have the funds to accommodate too many more people,” said Drury. “There have been donors that we have been able to work with, and now we have bigger pots of cash to assist more students.”

As of March 31, the Student Awards department alone handed out $493,000 in bursaries to 620 students. It may not sound like much, Drury said, but compare it to the 98 students that were helped five years prior.

“[In 2008] we went live with the current online bursary application system,” he said. “We've seen a drastic spike in opportunities being handed out, and every year there's exponential growth.”

When he started his position in 2006, Drury had seen leftover bursary money, and before online applications were available, applications were paper-based. “[It was difficult] trying to hand out applications or to get people to promote it ... It was quite difficult to find students if we needed to.”

But thanks to added bursary opportunities and an expanded department, more students can receive financial help.

“We have more staff who are able to spend time focusing on this, finding those students [and] getting applications reviewed,” Drury said. “It's the perfect storm; everything's fallen in place for us, which is allowing us to help more students.”

Students have no reason to be hesitant about applying. “When you sell it as $500 for a half hour's worth of work, I don't know too many people that do that, so it's very worth their while to spend that half an hour.”

Drury reminds students to “take a look.”

He explained that while a bursary may only be available for a student in her fifth semester (level five) of study, a third-semester student (level 3) student can remember it for the future.

“You can use this as a planning tool from day one to find out what bursaries are going to be available throughout your academic career,” said Drury.

“There's so much money out there. There's money in the community that probably never gets pent. People want to help out, but [students] need to go look for it.”

Follow Student Awards' Twitter handle @fanshaweawards and Like them on Facebook at facebook.com/FanshaweAwards to stay up-to-date on opportunities.