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Canada Student Bursaries

The Indigenous people of Canada are an integral part of Canadian heritage and culture. To encourage post-secondary education among the Aboriginal communities, the federal government of Canada in association with Indigenous Services Canada offers several Federal Student Bursary programs for Indigenous students. These federal student bursaries work towards reducing the education gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous people of Canada.

Before we check the bursary programs offered by the federal government for Aboriginal groups, it is important to understand the difference between grants, scholarships, and bursaries. While a grant is offered to students in need of financial aid for college and a scholarship is awarded to meritorious students, bursaries, on the other hand, are financial help provided to students belonging to specific socio-economic sections of the society. 

Let’s look at three federal bursaries, each dedicated to Inuit, First Nations and Metis Nations respectively.

Post-Secondary Student Support Program

To provide equal post-secondary education opportunities to students belonging to First Nations in comparison to other Canadian students, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) offers a student aid program known as Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP). This bursary covers First Nations students’ expenses related to tuition fees, books, travel, and cost of living. During the Budget 2019, the federal government pledged to allocate $320 million over the next five years towards the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.       

Eligibility criteria

To qualify for this program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a student from the First Nations community. 
  • You must hold a good academic standing while studying in a post-secondary program with a designated post-secondary institution. These institutions are either affiliated with ISC or selected by First Nations.
  • Other eligibility factors are decided by the First Nations-designated organizations.     

It is to be noted that not all the students who apply for this student aid can receive the bursary as the funding is limited. Some students can only get partial funding based on the selection criteria decided by First Nations.   

How much can you get

The Post-Secondary Student Support Program awards a maximum amount of $53,000 per school year to a post-secondary student from First Nations. However, a student pursuing a professional degree or studying a master’s/doctoral program from a First Nations designated school can receive a maximum of $90,000 per school year if the financial need is justified. Please note that the bursary amount is first allocated to First Nations-designated organizations, and it is these organizations that decide how the funding will be distributed further among students. 

How to apply

You must contact your local band office or ISC regional office to learn about the application process and deadlines. Please note that the funding from the Post-Secondary Student Support Program is applicable only for one school year. Students, who wish to continue receiving the student aid, must apply for the bursary again for every school year in their post-secondary education program.

Next Step

Contact a career counsellor at a registered college or university to know more details about supporting documents required to avail this Bursary.

Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy

As a dedicated attempt to rebuild ties with the Inuit people of Canada, the Canadian government along with ISC offers financial support to Inuit students enrolled in post-secondary programs through the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy. A major part of this federal funding is allocated to pay for student expenses such as application fees, tuition fees, certification and examination fees, books, supplementary education services like guides and counsellors, transportation, child care, and cost of living including the support of dependents.

Eligibility criteria

You qualify for this bursary if you tick the following boxes:

  • You must be an Inuit living in Canada, benefiting from the Inuit land claims agreement.
  • You must be enrolled in a post-secondary education program from an institute recognized by ISC.
  • Other selection criteria are determined by individual Inuit organizations that initially receive the funding.

Apart from students, a part of this funding is also offered to community service providers, provincial service providers, and schools and other educational institutions affiliated with accrediting bodies.

How much can you get

The amount that you receive through the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy is decided by Inuit-designated organizations who are the initial recipients of the federal funding. Each organization then allocates 75% of the funding they received to provide financial support to Inuit students. Depending on their financial needs, 75% of federal funding is then distributed among Inuit students selected for this student aid program.

The government of Canada allocates $21.8 million every year to the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy. However, during Budget 2019, an additional investment of $125.5 million was pledged to this program for a period of over 10 years.

How to apply 

If you are an Inuit student looking to avail federal funding through this bursary, you must contact your local Inuit land-claim organization or Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami for information on the application process, selection criteria, and deadlines.

Next Step? Contact a career counsellor at a registered college or university to know more details about supporting documents required to avail this financial assistance.

Metis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy

Similar to the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy, the government of Canada and ISC provide financial help to Metis Nation post-secondary students by allocating funds to local Metis Nation groups. 

The Metis Nation Post-Secondary Strategy covers the cost of following student expenses:

  • Tuition fees
  • Application fees
  • Books
  • Education services like counsellors, notetakers, etc.
  • Travel to home
  • Daily Transport
  • Childcare and dependent support
  • Rent and day-to-day living expenses

Besides offering student aid to people of Metis Nation, this program also provides funds for programs and services promoting post-secondary education in the Metis Nation community. A part of the bursary is also allocated to bolster the Metis Nation education governance and develop deeper ties with post-secondary institutes across the country.

Eligibility criteria

To qualify for this bursary, you must tick the following boxes:

  • You must belong to Metis Nation and reside in Canada.
  • You must be pursuing post-secondary education at a designated school.
  • There are other factors for selection that are determined by regional Metis Nation organizations.

How much can you get

The regional groups such asManitoba Metis Federation, Métis Nation British Columbia, Métis Nation Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of Alberta, Métis Nation of Ontario, and the Métis National Council are the first to receive federal funding. These local organizations then allocate the money to Metis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education. The amount awarded to a Metis Nation student depends on factors such as the financial needs of the student, the number of students eligible for the bursary, and the federal funding allocated to each Metis Nation organization.     

Every year, the federal government of Canada spends $40 million on Metis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy. In addition to that, Budget 2019 announced the allocation of $362 million to the program over the next 10 years.

How to apply 

Curious to know about the application process? Please contact your local Metis Nation organization to learn about the steps for applying to the program, deadlines, selection criteria, and more.  

Next Step? Contact a career counsellor at a registered college or university to know more details about supporting documents required to avail this financial assistance.

COVID-19 Financial Aid

Apart from the designated Federal Bursary Programs, the government of Canada has decided to contribute an additional $75.2 million towards helping students from First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation impacted by COVID-19.

Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool

Federal Student Bursaries are not the only type of student aid programs allocated to the Indigenous students of Canada. If you are a post-secondary student belonging to one of the three Aboriginal groups of Canada, you can use the Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool to discover over 490 bursaries provided by provinces, schools, education foundations, and more. 

Other Federal Student Aid Programs

If you belong to one of the Indigenous groups of Canada, your federal aid options are not limited to Federal Student Bursaries. Check out other popular federal funding programs for students such as Federal Student Grant, Federal Student Loan, and Federal Student Scholarships.

Student Loans and Grants

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Provincial Funding

Looking for student aid options offered by your local province? Choose your province of residence below to check out provincial funding options such as grants, loans, scholarships, and bursaries.
*All student funding, whether made available privately or through various government branches, is only approved to those who qualify, by the original source of funding. There are many criteria that each candidate must meet to be approved. Schools can only inform you of what may be available.