A student working on her laptop in qʷta:yθən leləm̓ (Sturgeon House Residence)
August 15, 2023
4 mins read

UBC awards: 5 tips for the savvy planner

If you're anything like I was in my first year, you might be wondering about the types of awards available to you after you've been admitted to UBC. Here’s an overview to help you understand requirements—and plan ahead!

Think of your finances like a pie—ideally, you have a variety of sources that come together to make up the whole and help you cover the cost of university over the next few years.

Support from your family, savings in the bank, a part-time job, a government student loan—these are all possible pieces of the pie. So are, potentially, scholarships, bursaries, and other awards available at UBC.

While awards aren’t usually the main way students pay for school—and it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have multiple sources of funding—below are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting an award.

And remember: If you ever have questions or concerns about your finances, your Enrolment Services Advisor is always there to help, so don't be shy about getting in touch!

1. Apply for the UBC Bursary if you have a Canadian student loan

The UBC Bursary covers the unmet financial needs of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are receiving Canadian student loans. If that’s you, great! All you have to do is submit an application via the Student Service Centre (SSC) by Sep 15. Applications open Aug 15.

Pro tip: Add the Sep 15 application deadline to your calendar now so you don’t forget to apply! 

2. Do well in courses—because it literally pays to study hard

First year can be a hit or a miss when it comes to academics. But, if you need one more incentive to study hard, remember that it could lead to extra funding. A variety of merit-based scholarships reward students who excel in academics.


  • The Trek Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students in the top 5% of their undergraduate year, faculty, and school. Students are automatically considered solely based on their percentage in the top 24 credits of the year—no application is required.

Pro tip: To be eligible for most scholarships, make sure you're registered in at least 24 credits in the upcoming year.  


3. Get involved and make connections

Of course, while it pays to focus on your studies, making time for research opportunities and extracurricular activities can also enrich your learning and growth. There’s a range of awards, prizes, and grants for things like research positions, community involvement, leadership activities, and athletics. 

Pro tip: If you work or volunteer for UBC, keep in touch with any UBC staff you work with, and build a rapport with professors early on. Faculty can recommend you for awards—but they can’t do so if they don’t know you!

4. Research if your connection to a certain group can get you an award

If you’re connected to a club, school district, trade union, or geographic region, that might qualify you for an affiliation scholarship or bursary.

Affiliation scholarships 

These are awards based on association with a certain group.

Affiliation bursaries 

These are awards dedicated to students with unmet financial need who belong to a certain community.

You can apply for affiliation scholarships and bursaries from Aug 15 to Sep 15.  

Pro tip: Scan the award descriptions of all affiliation scholarships and affiliation bursaries to see what might apply to you now or in future years—it’s never too early to start planning.


5. Use the UBC Award Search to explore all awards—and to find niche ones  

If you’re finding it hard to keep track of the different awards available at UBC, there’s a tool that can help! Check out the UBC Award Search page.

Tips when searching for awards:

Use the tool to filter as specifically as you want, such as by your desired department—or keep it broad to see the range of awards. For example, after you select your campus and faculty/school, you can either:

  1. Keep the default of "All" in the "Department" field. Select "Undergraduate" for "Degree Level" and click "Search".
    • You'll then see ALL the available award results for your faculty/school.
  2. Choose “General” for the "Department" field to filter for awards that students in your faculty/school are generally eligible for. Select "Undergraduate" for "Degree Level" and click "Search".
    • You'll see a narrower range of award results than option 1.

You can even work your way down to filtering by award type—e.g. a bursary, prize, or scholarship—by clicking the “More filters” button on the right to reveal additional search options.

To see awards that are NOT related to your faculty, choose “Non-academic units” under the “Faculty or School” field. Then further filter based on the options under “Department”—there’s even one for “UBC Vancouver International Students”.

Pro tip: When you get a list of award results, click on the arrows in the "Application Type" column on the far right. This will sort your results so that "Application required" awards come up first. These are awards you'll need to proactively apply for (as opposed to those for which students are automatically considered based on meeting certain requirements).

You can also alphabetize your results by clicking on the arrows in the "Description" column on the far left.

Although you might not qualify right away for the awards you research, knowing your options now can help you plan ahead—for example, by taking certain courses, making time to get involved, or taking at least 24 credits of classes each year.

So do your research, get to know your profs, and give it a shot—you never know unless you try. Best of luck!