Paying for University: A Financial Options Checklist

Financing your university education can be challenging. The good news is there are lots of options available to help you manage expenses and reduce costs while having a great university experience. Below is a list of funding options you’ll want to look into to help finance your educational costs:

Existing funds

These are resources you already have, including savings, investments, gifts, etc.

Family contributions

Other family members may be able to lend or gift you money to assist with your education.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

An investment plan used by parents and/or caregivers to save for their learner's post-secondary education.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

Students enrolled in full-time post-secondary studies for at least three months of the year can make tax-free withdrawals from RRSPs of up to $10,000 per year up to a maximum of $20,000 over four years.

Repayments must be made over 10 years, starting the year after the last year of your enrollment or six years after the first withdrawal (whichever comes first).


Review your assets and determine what you could potentially sell off to use funds for your education.


Save funds from summer and/or part-time jobs. Check out VIU’s on-campus student jobs and off-campus student employment. The Canada Summer Jobs program is another way to earn work experience and funds for youth between 15 and 30 years old.

Higher Ed Points

Through Higher Ed Points, students can use anyone’s loyalty points to fund tuition and student loans.

Scholarships, awards, and bursaries

At Vancouver Island University, the Scholarships, Awards, and Bursaries program, coordinated through the Financial Aid and Awards office, provides financial assistance, incentives, and rewards to eligible students. You must complete your profile each year between early September and March 30, as information is not brought forward annually.

External awards

External awards include scholarships, awards, and bursaries that are available to all students through agencies unaffiliated with VIU. Our categorized list of external awards contains more than $21.2 million in funding to help minimize student debt. A lot of times, scholarships are not given out because many don’t apply. Don’t miss out as this is a great (and possible) way to fund your education!

Bank loans

Many financial institutions offer student lines of credit.

Student loans and grants

Did you know that when you apply for a student loan, you may also be eligible to receive grants? Grants = free money that you don’t have to pay back. Students applying for student aid to study at BC public post-secondary institutions will automatically be assessed for these non-repayable grants.

BC Residents can apply for student loans at StudentAid BC. If you’re not a BC Resident, you can apply for a student loan through the province in which you are a resident.

Loan applications are typically available beginning June 1 of each year and usually take 4 to 6 weeks to process, so make sure that you apply early.

Adult Upgrading Grant

The Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG) is funding from the provincial government that you don’t pay back. It’s for students enrolled in Adult Basic Education (ABE), Workplace Essential Skills Training (WEST) or English as a Second Language (ESL).

Canada Learning Bond

The Canada Learning Bond helps you start saving for your child’s education after high school. For more information, email

Student loan estimators

The Canada Student Financial Assistance Program has custom planners and estimators to help you figure out how much school will cost, how much you could receive in government loans to pay for school, and how much you might have to pay back when you are done. The types of estimator tools include:

  • Education Savings Calculator Parental Contribution Calculator
  • Student Financial Assistance Estimator Loan Repayment Estimator
  • Repayment Assistance Estimator

Former youth in care

Vancouver Island University is excited to announce that former youth in care in BC of all ages will now have their tuition waived for post-secondary education, as the BC government takes action to remove the age requirement for the BC Provincial Tuition Waiver Program for former youth in care and make it available for a lifetime.

In 2017, the B.C. government developed the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program that waived tuition and fees for former youth in care between 19 and 26. Effective Aug. 1, 2023, this expanded tuition waiver will be made available to all BC former youth in care at any age as part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready plan to make education and training more accessible and affordable.

To apply for the BC Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, obtain more information, and review other funding options for Former Youth in Care, check out Youth Aged out of Care Funding.

Financial aid and awards

The VIU Financial Aid and Awards Office is committed to supporting students in their search for financial assistance, including provincial and federal loans, grants, internal and external scholarships, awards, and bursaries.

Got questions? Email .

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