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Need help paying for post-secondary?

June 16, 2021
Author: Angela Meneghetti, VIU Financial Aid Access Specialist

Funding options for students

Over the past year and a half, federal and provincial governments have introduced COVID-19 relief measures aimed at supporting students – one of the groups hardest hit financially by the pandemic. What does this mean for you? It means there are more funding options available than ever before to help you return to school.

With all of these supports in place, you may be wondering what you need to do to get started. Check out the following funding options and start realizing your goals:

Grants, loans and waiver programs

Canada Student Financial Assistance Program for full and part-time students

The federal government is doubling Canada Student Grants via the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program (formerly Canada Student Loans Program) until July 31, 2023. Grants are non-repayable awards, which means that you do not need to pay them 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 get more information on how to apply for the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program by checking out BC Government Student Loans and Grants. If you are not a BC Resident, you can apply for a student loan through the province in which you are a resident.

Student loan applications are now open for the 2021-22 academic year—apply here.

BC Access Grant

Introduced by the BC government in February 2020, the BC Access Grant will help more than 40,000 low- and middle-income students access, afford and complete public post-secondary education and training every year in BC. Students applying for student aid to study at BC public post-secondary institutions will be automatically assessed for the BC Access Grant. This non-repayable grant will also be doubled up to the end of July 2023.

Adult Upgrading Grant

The Adult Upgrading Grant is funding from the provincial government that you do not have to pay back. It is for students enrolled in Adult Basic Education, Workplace Essential Skills Training or English as a Second Language programs. Anyone not receiving financial assistance for educational costs from other sources may apply for funding. Eligible students must apply before the start of classes. Visit the Adult Upgrading Grant Funding homepage to apply.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Program Debt Relief and Interest Waiver

To ease financial stress for students, the federal government will waive the accrual of interest on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until March 31, 2022.

Tuition Waiver Program

Youth who have aged out of care and are attending Vancouver Island University can apply for two tuition waiver programs: the BC Provincial Tuition Waiver Program and the Vancouver Island University Tuition Waiver Program. Check out our Youth Aged out of Care Funding page for application forms and other funding options for former youth in care.

Employment opportunities

Canada Summer Jobs

The Canada Summer Jobs program aims to create valuable summer work experience opportunities to help Canadian youth between 15-30 years save for post-secondary.

On-campus student employment

On-campus student employment is a fantastic way to gain valuable work experience, build relationships with your professors and others on campus, and earn money towards educational costs.

Off-campus student employment

Off-campus employment is work that takes place outside of the boundaries of VIU’s campuses and is a great option to access money to help with educational costs and living expenses.

Scholarships, awards and bursaries

VIU Scholarships, Awards and Bursaries

The Scholarship, Award and Bursary program, coordinated through the Financial Aid & Awards office, provides financial assistance, incentives and rewards to eligible students. You must complete your profile each year between early September and March 31, as information is not brought forward annually. There is almost $4 million in awards and bursaries to be given away this year to eligible students, so be sure to apply! Check out our informative VIU Scholarship, Award, and Bursary Profile video for step-by-step instructions to prepare for the upcoming submission deadlines.

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 – so don’t miss out on your chances as this is a great (and possible) way to fund your education!

BC Government Emergency Aid Funding

Recently announced emergency aid funding is reserved for students enrolled and attending fall 2021 and spring 2022 courses. To be considered, students must complete their Scholarship, Award and Bursary Profile located in their student record, which opens on September 1, 2021. Students currently attending VIU and enrolled in summer courses experiencing high financial need can email for assistance.

Budgeting tips and tricks

Need some help putting together a budget? Check out our Budgeting Tips and Resources page to help you manage your money and minimize financial stress.


Paying for university 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. If you have any questions about the information in this article, or other financial aid questions or concerns, please contact us at or 250-740-6423.


Angela Meneghetti is a Financial Aid Access Specialist with Vancouver Island University.

New to VIU?

VIU is planning for a return to on-campus activities this fall and is excited to offer in-person support services once more. We encourage you to get up to speed on the various student supports and services offered by VIU’s Student Affairs Department by watching this Transitioning to University video.

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