Tips for Applying for Merit Scholarships in Canada

As a student, you know scholarships can provide invaluable financial assistance for your postsecondary education. While some are awarded based on financial need, others recognize academic excellence and leadership qualities. These merit scholarships reward your hard work and allow you to avoid or reduce student debt. When applying, highlight not just your grades but extracurriculars and unique talents that set you apart.

With thousands of dollars available from schools, private donors, companies and more, dedicate time to finding and thoughtfully completing applications. Research widely, noting criteria and deadlines, to maximize your chances at securing funding. This article provides tips to help you successfully apply for merit-based scholarships in Canada.

Finding Merit-Based Scholarships in Canada

Check Government Websites

The Government of Canada and provincial governments offer various merit-based scholarships for Canadian students. Visit official government websites like Scholarships Canada to explore options and eligibility criteria. Programs like the Canada Student Grants for University Students and Canada Graduate Scholarships are need-blind and merit-based, providing funding for students with outstanding academic achievement.

Contact Universities and Colleges

Many post-secondary institutions offer entrance and in-course scholarships for students with high academic standing. Visit the websites of universities and colleges you are interested in and check their scholarships and bursaries page for options. Schools often have general merit-based scholarships as well as program-specific options for areas of study like science, technology, math, and engineering. Contact the financial aid office to learn about all opportunities and how to apply.

Explore Private Options

Numerous private organizations, non-profits, and businesses offer merit-based scholarships for Canadian students. Websites like Universities Canada, Yconic, and Scholartree allow you to filter scholarships by merit-criteria. Private scholarships are often aimed at particular areas of study, locations, or underrepresented groups. While private scholarships typically have smaller award amounts, they add up and help fund your education.

With various government, post-secondary, and private options, there are many avenues to explore for merit-based funding in Canada. Start your search early, pay attention to criteria and deadlines, and apply to as many relevant scholarships as possible to increase your chances of being awarded free money for your education.

Putting Together a Strong Scholarship Application

To successfully apply for merit-based scholarships in Canada, you must submit a compelling application that demonstrates your achievements and potential.###Academic Achievements and Test Scores Provide your official transcripts from high school to showcase your GPA and coursework, especially in challenging subjects related to your intended field of study. Also include scores from standardized tests like the SAT, ACT or relevant AP or IB exams. Highlight any academic honors or distinctions you have earned.

Extracurricular Activities and Leadership Roles

Discuss your involvement in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, sports teams, clubs, or community organizations. Emphasize any leadership positions you held and how you contributed to the success of the group. Discuss skills and values you developed through these activities.

A Strong Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a chance to bring your application to life and show your passion for your chosen program of study. Discuss your academic interests, career goals, and any experiences that have shaped your aspirations. Explain how you will contribute to the campus community. Get feedback from others, then revise your statement to around 500-700 words.

Letters of Recommendation

Ask teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, or community leaders who know you well to write letters of recommendation. Meet with them to discuss your goals and provide details about the scholarships you are applying for. Request that they speak to your strengths, work ethic, values, and potential for success.

With a compelling application highlighting your achievements, experiences, and potential, you will put yourself in a strong position to earn merit-based scholarships for your post-secondary studies in Canada. Best of luck!

FAQ: Common Questions About Applying for Merit Scholarships in Canada

What are merit-based scholarships?

Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on a student’s achievements and talents rather than financial need. They are distributed based on criteria such as academic performance, athletic or artistic ability, community service, or career goals. Universities and private organizations offer merit scholarships to recruit top students.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for most merit scholarships in Canada, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Meet a minimum GPA requirement, typically around 3.5 or higher
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at a designated post-secondary institution
  • Meet additional criteria such as community service hours, audition or portfolios

Some merit scholarships also consider financial need or other attributes like leadership qualities. You must check the specific eligibility criteria for each scholarship.

How do I apply?

  1. Visit the organizations’ websites: Research scholarships on university, government, and private organization websites. Pay attention to deadlines and application requirements.
  2. Prepare the necessary documents: This typically includes transcripts, reference letters, essays or personal statements, and in some cases a portfolio, audition or interview.
  3. Complete the application forms: Follow the instructions carefully and submit the applications before the deadlines.
  4. Apply for as many as possible: Do not limit yourself to just one or two scholarships. Apply to as many as you are eligible for to increase your chances of winning.

READ ALSO: How to Successfully Apply for the World Bank Scholarship Program


Focus your scholarship applications by identifying awards aligned with your academic strengths and interests. Thoroughly read scholarship requirements and tailor your application materials to demonstrate how you fulfill the criteria. Present a compelling personal statement highlighting your background, accomplishments and aspirations. Follow application instructions precisely and submit all required documents and recommendations before deadlines.

With focus, preparation and persistence, you can successfully apply for merit-based scholarships to help fund your education in Canada. Pursuing scholarships takes time and effort, but the investment can provide invaluable support as you pursue your academic and career goals.

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