Five Tips for Paying for University

Written by Onella (she/her), current student

You’re a future university student… of course you’re worried about money.

If you’re planning to attend university, I’m sure you must have many questions including “how am I going to pay for this?” Money can be a stressful topic. While it may seem overwhelming, it’s important to take this process one step at a time — and that first step is to learn your options.

1. Apply for financial aid

For students that are eligible, the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) or the equivalent in your home province is a form of financial aid that helps many students fund their post-secondary education.

Even if you’re questioning whether you’re eligible for OSAP, you should apply, because you might just miss out on thousands of dollars if you don’t! There’s no harm in applying.

2. Check out scholarship websites

You will quickly realize an important part of university is being self-accountable. You’re entirely responsible for things like deadlines, and there are plenty to keep track of when it comes to scholarships.

There are numerous websites that have scholarships you can apply for. Websites such as and are just a few which list hundreds of potential scholarships.

Checking out the scholarships and bursaries at the universities you're considering is a great option too. At the University of Waterloo, there are some scholarships and bursaries you’ll be automatically considered for, and others you’ll need to apply directly to.

3. Create a budget

It’s not a secret that money can be hard to manage. Sometimes it can feel like it leaves quicker than it comes in. So, consider keeping an on-going budget to help keep you in the green.

You don’t need to note every late-night burger or early-morning coffee. But creating a budget might help guide your spending habits.

Monitoring your finances can be difficult regardless of the university you choose, so check out our tips on budgeting your first year to ensure your set up for success anywhere you go.

4. Consider a part-time job

A part-time job is a great way to fund your lifestyle. Whether you get a summer job to save up or choose to work during the school year, a part-time job always proves to be beneficial. Doing so can help pay rent, tuition, or earn you some extra cash to help financially support your social life.

At Waterloo there are hundreds of job opportunities all over campus. From being a student ambassador to working at one of our many libraries, the possibilities are endless. If working on campus is not something that interests you, Waterloo’s surrounding area is home to numerous businesses, each with job opportunities of their own.

5. Look into co-op programs

Co-op programs can be a big aid to help cover the cost of your schooling while gaining valuable work experience at the same time.

Prospective students all over choose the University of Waterloo for our co-op program. By giving you the ability to both gain experience and earn money, the co-op program is known for setting up students for future success. You can make from $9,000 to $21,500 per work term to help offset the cost of tuition.

Learning how you’re going to pay for university is hard to figure out on your own. But I hope that these tips helped give you an idea of what your options are as you enter this new and exciting chapter of your academic journey.

Discover the ultimate guide to financing your education