Illustration of scholarship document and an award
August 6, 2018
4 mins read

UBC awards: 5 tips for the savvy planner

If you’re anything like I was in first year, you might be wondering about the types of awards available to continuing students. 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 that help you cover the cost of university over the next 3 to 5 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 is, 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—here’s what you can do to increase your chances of getting an award:

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

The UBC bursary covers unmet financial need for 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 Sept. 15.

Protip: Bookmark Aug. 15 on your calendar—when bursary applications open—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 in the first few months, remember that it could lead to extra funding. A variety of merit-based scholarships reward students who excel in academics.

For example, the Trek Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students in the top 5 to 10% of their class. Students are automatically considered solely based on their percentage in the top 24 credits of the year—no application is required.

To be eligible for most scholarships, you have to be registered in at least 24 credits in the upcoming year.

Protip: Get a head start by exploring the Learning Commons’ student toolkits, which cover topics like note-taking, critical thinking, and library research. These resources might just come in handy when you tackle your first university assignments.  

3. Get involved and make connections

Of course, while it pays to study hard, making time for extracurricular activities can also enrich your learning and growth.

When I started at UBC, I wanted to get involved in as many opportunities as possible. I joined clubs, attended conferences, and participated in the Work Learn Program. Down the road, these experiences have turned out to be the best investment I could have made with my time!

The great thing is that UBC rewards such participation. There’s a range of awards and prizes for things like community involvement, leadership activities, and athletics. These awards are offered by non-academic units at UBC, like the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers.

For example, the Nestor Korchinsky Student Leadership Award considers a student’s contribution towards community building, both on and off campus. The International Community Achievement Award rewards international students who show leadership in a variety of areas, such as community service, promotion of diversity, or artistic or athletic pursuits—a broad range.

Protip: Make sure you remain 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 are awards based on association with a certain group. For example, there’s the Knight Family Centenary Scholarship for Aboriginal Students, or the Canadian Armed Forces Memorial Scholarship for students who were in the armed forces or are descendants of those who served.

Affiliation bursaries are awards dedicated to students with unmet financial need who belong to a certain community. For example, the Sutro Bancroft Bursary is offered to students born in Greece or Canada, or to parents born in Greece.  

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

Protip: 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 plan ahead.

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 freshly launched UBC Award Search page.

Use the tool to filter as specifically as you want. Or keep it general to see the range of awards. For example, after you select your campus and faculty/school, you can choose “General” for department. Or, narrow your search by selecting your intended major program or department.

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

Protip: To see awards that are NOT related to your faculty, choose “non-academic unit” under the “Faculty or School” field. Then further filter based on the options under “Department”—there’s even one for “UBC Vancouver international students”.

Take a look at some gems I found while using this savvy tool:

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

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