Episode 02-Applying to Scholarships, Bursaries, and OSAP

Host - Sabrina Abdul

Duration - 28:02

Speaker: Sabrina Abdul

Hello, Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Get With The Grove podcast. My name is Sabrina and I'm a Youth Ambassador based out of the Grove Palmerston site. I hope you're all having an amazing day so far. Today we will be covering the topic of applying to scholarships, bursaries, and OSAP. So a little background about me before we get started, I'm going into my fourth year of neuroscience at the University of Guelph with a minor in psychology. And I remember when I was going into my first year, that summer in July, I knew absolutely nothing about OSAP, scholarships, or bursaries. All I knew is that I got an entrance scholarship, which a lot of universities and colleges offer, but I didn't know how to apply to OSAP, I didn't even know what OSAP really was. And so today, I'm here to give you all tips and tricks I wish I knew going into my first year of university. Okay, so let's start off with the basics. What's the difference between a scholarship and a bursary? And if you don't know the difference, don't worry, I didn't know the difference either for a long time, I'm going to break it down for you. So a scholarship is typically based on academic standing, so they look at your grades and your overall average. And the financial status of the students family is typically not considered when it comes to scholarships, but sometimes it is. And scholarships are awarded to individuals based on grades, community involvement, specific skills, etc. Now, I know it might be scary hearing that scholarships look at grades. Although many do, there are many scholarships that do not take grades into consideration. I did not have the best first and second year of university, I practically almost failed all of my classes, and I was really scared that I wouldn't be able to get any scholarships later on. But I'm here to tell you that it is still possible. There are still so many scholarships out there that don't look at your grades, and are based on needs and community involvement, volunteering, etc. Now, bursaries on the other hand, they don't look at grades most of the time, and they're very much based on financial need. So usually the financial status of your family is considered when you are applying for bursaries. So now I know you're thinking, ‘how do I go about applying for scholarships and bursaries?’ So there's really two ways that you can apply to scholarships. So if you're going into your first year of university or college, you will typically be awarded an entrance scholarship if you have a certain average. And with this, you don't need to apply for it at all. You will receive the scholarship when you receive your acceptance letter for the university or college. But there's many scholarships that you can apply for on your own, usually have to write an essay for these, a personal statement, and upload a resume and your grades for example. So for these types of scholarships, you can always go on to your university or colleges financial aid website, and you can look at what type of scholarships they offer for first years coming into university. There's a lot out there and I wish I knew about a lot of them before I was in university because now I'm a little- it’s a little too late to apply for some of them. But there are some pretty amazing scholarships and there's one in particular, there's a bursary that I was able to get and it's called the first generation bursary. And I know that a lot of other universities and colleges also offer this and it's typically only needs based they don't look at your grades or anything else. And basically what it is if you are the first person in your family to go to post secondary school, so either college or university, you're automatically given this bursary. So for example, if you were the first out of your siblings and your parents didn't go to university or college, then you're eligible for this bursary. If you have any more questions about applying to scholarships, you can also ask your guidance counselors at your schools or you can even come into one of the Grove hubs and we can definitely help you out with that as well.

So continuing on, so that's pretty much how you kind of apply to scholarships going into your first year. There's also a lot of scholarships that are not listed on your financial aid university or college website. And these can be found using two websites that I frequently use. The first website is www.studentawards.com and the second website is www.scholarshipscanada.com. And these two websites, what they do is they kind of compile a bunch of different scholarships and bursaries and Canada. And you just go under the search engine, and you put in your program type- so if you're doing a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, etc. If it's needs base, you can put like your average in as well. And it will match scholarships and bursaries to what you've searched. And with this, you just go through all of the ones that come up, and then you can see if you're eligible for them, a lot of them are just, you apply to them by writing a short essay, submitting your grades and a resume, but they're all different. It really depends on all of them. And scholarships, and bursaries can range from zero to almost like $20,000, if not more. But the most common ones are usually $500, $1,000, and stuff like that. But if you are new to applying to scholarships, and bursaries, I would first start off with applying directly through your university or college. So again, you would just go on your university or colleges, financial aid website, and on there, they'll have lots of different tips on applying to scholarships, they'll have the search engines and everything like that. If you're applying to scholarships, and you're already in your second, third or fourth year, you might know already but most universities, what they do is they have a search engine and you would go under undergraduate in course scholarships. And under there, again, you can put what program you're in and all of that, and it'll match you to different scholarships and bursaries that you can apply for. And I know that at Guelph at least, I don't know about any other universities, but at Guelph, we do something like this. So we have a needs assessment form that comes out at the end of August every year, and we submit this form, we fill it out, and then we submit it, it's usually due, I think, October 7 of every year. And they put us into a pool of scholarships and bursaries and the ones that we match, we end up getting half of the time, I believe. But yeah, they both basically put us in a pool and the ones that we match we get and- However, there are some scholarships, and bursaries that you also have to submit an additional letter or a resume or something like that. And you can find out if a certain scholarship or bursary needs an extra letter by actually going to, again, your post secondary schools financial aid website, going through all the different scholarships, and bursaries and seeing what the requirements are. So for example, Guelph, if we do need an extra essay with the needs assessment form, it'll say, requirements, NAF form, letter, transcript, for example. Again, they don't look at your transcript a lot of the time, but I do know, majority of the scholarships, you do need at least a 75 or 80 average. But do not let this discourage you from applying. There are many scholarships that you do not need a 75 or 80 average. And they look into other things. Like for example, if you volunteered a lot on campus or outside in your community, community involvement and needs based. I don't think I mentioned this yet, but the money that you get from scholarships and bursaries, the money from directly from your post secondary schools, so if you get a scholarship or bursary from for example, if I got one from Guelph, it would be first applied to my tuition, and then if there's any left over, it will be deposited into my bank account. And you can use that money that's deposited into your bank account for anything school related, for example, textbooks. If you're living off campus, you can use it for rent and tutors and stuff like that. And another thing I forgot to mention is so, I did receive an entrance scholarship going into my first year and with this entrance scholarship, you- if you maintain the average that they tell you to, so for me I believe it was an 80, you get to keep this scholarship going forward in university so if you get an 80 average your first year you'll get that amount applied again your second year, and if you continue to keep that average second year, you'll get it applied again third year. So that didn’t happen with me unfortunately. As I mentioned, I almost failed every single course first year but that's okay because university and college is a huge learning curve. And it's okay if you almost fail all of your classes because it's all about learning. Again, university is very different and college as well. So just take it day by day. So that's kind of the gist of what bursaries and scholarships are. Typically, as I mentioned, at least a Guelph. You want to apply for scholarships, usually at the end of August, beginning of September. Every university and college is different, however, so you want to double check on your financial aid website. If you have any other questions, or you are just confused about the process, there are lots of different resources. If you do search up your university or college’s name followed by financial aid, you will see a lot of different resources like how to apply to financial aid, how to apply to Oh sub scholarships and bursaries, for example. And usually, always there is an email that you can email if you have any questions. So definitely look into that if you are confused about anything, but you can also come into our into one of our hubs, if you need more help or assistance. So that's pretty much it on scholarships, and bursaries.

And next topic we're going to be going over is OSAP. And I'm going to be honest, if it wasn't for OSAP, I definitely wouldn't be able to make it through university and college, they have helped me so much with payments, and paying for tuition, and honestly, I do not know what I would do without them. So what is OSAP? OSAP stands for Ontario Student Assistance Program. And basically, they're a government funded program that allows you to have financial aid, while in university or college. So I applied for OSAP in July going into my first year, and basically just the background of it is you apply, you submit your income documents, so your personal income, and then your parents income depending on if they needed or not. And then usually, within six weeks after that, they send you the aid, so the amount that you'll be getting throughout the year, and there's two payments, so you have your September payment, and then January. So the September payment is always a little bit more than the January one, just because the September tuition is always more expensive than the winter tuition. And so what happens is OSAP will pay basically, they'll submit the money that you're supposed to be getting. So let's say that my tuition for that semester is $4,000. And I'm getting $8,000 in OSAP support for fall. So they would apply the $4,000 onto my $4,000 tuition, and then the leftover amount of my OSAP gets directly deposited into my bank account. So then I'll have an extra $4,000 in my bank account for rent, textbooks, anything like that. So there's two types of OSAP applications. There is the full time application and the part time application. So the full time application is available for students who take at least 60% of the full course load. So this is about 1.5 credits each semester, which is usually about three courses, because one course is usually 0.5 credits. Or for students with a permanent disability 40% of a full course load, so one credit, so two courses is all you need to apply. And that's for the full time application. For the part time, it is one credit of courses. And if you have a permanent disability, it's 0.5 credits. So with OSAP, like I mentioned, you get a set amount of money that gets calculated and the calculations are based on your income, your family's income, for example, if your parents are divorced, or still together, and all of that, so a lot of factors go into calculating the aid that you get. And also if you have a permanent disability. So within the calculations, you get a certain amount of grants and a certain amount of loans like a certain amount of money for each, if that makes sense. And so the difference between these two is a grant is a type of aid that is not alone and that you don't have to pay back. It's usually awarded based on financial need and/or other factors. whereas alone is money that you borrow that must be paid back. So with OSAP, you're borrowing the money from the government of Canada and or Ontario, and with student loans, you don't have to pay the interest that adds up while you're in school. It's paid by the federal and provincial governments. You have a period of six months, which is the grace period, after you graduate or leave full time studies before you're required to pay back your loan and interest starts growing. So basically a grant is free money and a loan is money that you get in the meantime that you have to pay back later on. And you also have a choice. So if you want to apply to OSAP, but you just want to take the grant, you can also do that. You don't have to take the loans if you don't want to. And again, the grants are free money. So this is just money that you would never have to pay back to the government. So that's kind of the gist of what OSAP is. Now I'm just going to go over the steps of applying for OSAP. So there's six steps that come with applying for OSAP. And I just want to say that these steps are just if you are a first time applicant, so you are going into your first year of university or college, and you're applying for OSAP for the first time. If you're in your second, third, fourth or fifth, six year, you apply, you have to apply for OSAP every year. But if you are reapplying, so you already have an OSAP account, it's very easy. You just reapply, I believe like two to three months before school starts. And you just put in your income information for that year. And then a few weeks later, you'll get your aid estimate. And yeah, so that's pretty much the difference between that. So the six steps are you register online for an OSAP account, then you apply for OSAP. That's the second step. The third step is you'll receive your OSAP aid estimate. The fourth step is you have to complete your MFSAA, which is basically a form and that’s only for first time applicants. And then the fifth step, you're going to complete these forms. And the sixth step is you just check OSAP- you check your OSAP account for regular updates. So with the first step for registering online for an OSAP account, you can do this by going on the OSAP website. So if you just go and search up OSAP in your browser, it should be the first website that comes up. It's a government of Ontario website. So it just has .gov.on.ca at the end. And you're going to need your social insurance numbers, so your sin number to create your OSAP account. And you want to make sure that you write down your OSAP access number and password because you'll need these to login in the future. So now that you've registered for your OSAP account, the second step is applying for OSAP. So this typically takes less than 15 minutes, and you can start your application and come back to it if you need extra time to complete it. So when you apply for OSAP, you're going to need info about your school and your program, your parents or your spouse's sin number, this isn't always needed, and your tax information or your parent or spouse's tax information. Again, it depends on multiple factors on whose tax information you will need. But, majority of the time it is your parents. And the tax information includes income and other information found in an income tax return. And if you are confused about getting this, if you go on to the CRA website, you can log in using your information or your parents, and you'll be able to see your income tax return on there. If you can't find it. The next thing is pretty important. So you want to make sure that you submit your OSAP application by the deadline.

So for part time students with study periods of about 21 weeks or more and for all full time students, you want to submit your OSAP application no later than 60 days before the end of your study period. So what I mean when I say ‘no later than 60 days before the end of your study period’, this basically means if you start in fall, your last day is usually your last exam, so sometime in December, so 60 days before that you want to submit your OSAP application. So if you're listening to this now, and you're panicking because you- school starting soon and you haven't applied yet, don't worry, there's still time to apply and you can receive your financial aid in time as well. For part time, students will study periods of 20 weeks or less, so less than a typical semester, which is four months, you want to submit your OSAP application no later than 40 days before the end of your study period. However, for students in micro credential programs, you want to submit your OSAP application no later than the end of your study period. So now the third step is you'll receive an OSAP aid estimate. And this basically is an estimate of how much OSAP funding you may be eligible for after submitting your application. I just want to note here That this is an estimate and that it can change. So in my second year, I applied for OSAP in July. I got my first payment in September. And then my second payment in January was actually recalculated, because I ended up getting a bursary and scholarship. And so these factors go into determining how much financial aid you'll get. So if you do get a bursary or scholarship, this might skew the amount of OSAP, you'll get but usually not by a lot. But again, I just wanted to make sure that you know that it's an estimate of how much money you will receive, and that it can change. So it could be less, or it could be more later on. So typically, you could qualify for more money if you're an indigenous student, a student with a permanent disability, or a current or former crown ward. And if you want to check how much OSAP you you might get before even applying for OSAP and making an account, you can do this by searching up OSAP aid estimator and you can just put in your information, and it'll give you a slight estimate of how much you'll be receiving for that year. But again, this is completely different than when you apply. When you apply, you might get more or less than that estimate. So now the fourth step, and again, this step is only if you're a first time applicant to OSAP, you're going to complete the MFSAA. And what this stands for is a master student financial assistance agreement. And you have to fill this out if you are a full time or part time student through the NSLSC, which is a national student loan service center. Sorry, that was a lot for me to say. So the NSLSC will send you an email when it's time for you to register for your online account and complete your MFSAA online. And basically, this MFSAA is a lifetime student loan agreement, which only needs to be completed once for full time studies or part time studies, like I mentioned previously. If you're enrolled in a micro credential program, you do not have to complete the MFSAA. Instead, you will complete a micro credential student loan agreement. So after you've done that, you'll be on step five, which is completing forms. So you may need to complete your signature and declaration forms and upload them to your OSAP application. You may also need to submit additional documents. If you do not have access to a printer, you can come into one of our hubs and print and sign these documents. For full time and part time students. Your financial aid office must receive these documents no later than 40 days from the end of your study period. If you're in a micro credential program, you must provide these documents to your financial aid office no later than five days after your study period has ended. And now I know I've been blabbing a lot, but now we are finally on the last step of applying for OSAP. And that's step six, checking your OSAP account for updates. So updates about your application will be posted online on your OSAP account. You want to check your OSAP account regularly and opt in for email notifications so you know as soon as updates occur. So I've opted in for these email notifications and basically whenever there's an update to my OSAP account, I just receive an email about it. And it just says there's an update just to log into your account and see what the update is. And typically, you'll get updates for when your financial aid for that year has been calculated, if you need any additional forms to sign an upload, for example, it could be anything else as well. You can choose the check online option on your OSAP profile to receive these email notifications anytime the status of your application changes. And from the time you submit your application and the time OSAP receives it all, like all your required documents, it usually takes about three to six weeks to hear back about how much aid you'll be getting for that year. And that is all! You have finally finished applying to OSAP.

Sorry, I know that was a mouthful and it might have been a little dry topic but it's very important to go through and I hope that you learned a lot about applying for OSAPs and scholarships and bursaries. If you have any other questions, you can feel free to drop into any one of our hubs. So currently the Erin, Palmerston, and Fergus Grove hubs are running. So you can just check in our drop in times or you can dm us to see our drop in times and just drop by and we can help you out as well.

Now the last thing I wanted to add, before we end off this podcast is, I don't want you to be afraid to go to university or college, if you're worried about not being able to pay for tuition or rent or living expenses. I was really worried going into university about this, just because I didn't know how expensive it would be. And I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get help from my parents or from anyone else, that it would be hard for me to work during school and be able to pay my tuition. But luckily, I found out that there is so much financial aid out there to help you. There are so many programs that your university or college might offer that you don't know about. For example, there's work study programs where you can work on campus to make money to pay for tuition and stuff like that. There's also, I forgot what it's called, but basically, what it is, is you can take the tuition- so for example, for fall, usually you pay your tuition all at once in September, and then another portion of it in January. But what you can do is you can take the total amount for one semester, and divide that by four, and then pay in increments. So each month, you pay an installment of that. And it's usually just an extra $40 fee if you choose to do that way. But I had to do that for I believe my first year, just because first year is definitely very, very expensive, especially if you live on res, because you'll be paying for your res, your meal plan all at once. Whereas your second, third and fourth year, if you choose to live off campus, you'll be paying rent monthly. So it's a lot. It's not that necessarily cheaper. Sometimes it can be more expensive. It's just that you're not paying a huge lump sum of money all at once. And you'll have more time to pay the money off, for example. But yeah, just feel free to look at all these resources that your university or college offers. Because this definitely should not be a boundary for you. There are so many resources out there and I promise like you can get through it and that if you look at these resources and apply to OSAP and apply to scholarships and bursaries, you can definitely get through university with a low amount of loans and money that you have to pay back.

And if you made it to the end of this podcast, thank you so much for sticking around. I hope you learned a lot, and I'll see you on the next podcast. Bye. Have a great day.