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Research has shown that paying for school has become an exercise in pooling money from a variety of sources, and finding the most effective – and inventive – ways to fund an education.

If you’ve started — or are looking into starting your post-secondary education in the next year, you’re probably working through what your costs are going to be, and how you’ll cover them. You’re not alone. Research has shown that paying for school has become an exercise in pooling money from a variety of sources, and finding the most effective — and inventive — ways to fund your education.

Here are four options to consider when paying for college or university. Keep in mind – you can use one option, or all four combined!

1. Personal Savings

Many students start thinking about paying for school early — but it’s okay if you haven’t. If you can take on a part-time or summer job during high school, you can save some of that money to start building your college or university fund.

Plus, some parents set up an RESP when their children are small. The savings in these plans can really add up over time — talk to your parents to see if they had set one up one when you were young, it could be a strong contributor to your education fund.

2. Scholarships, Grants or Bursaries

Make sure to research for scholarships, grants, or bursaries that you may be eligible for. Many scholarships are based on merit, while grants and bursaries are often awarded based on financial need (but other accomplishments may be considered). Either way, it’s assistance you usually don’t have to pay back once you graduate.

Talk to your guidance counselors, and financial aid offices at the schools you may attend, as they have lists of available scholarships to apply for.

There are also helpful websites (such as scholarshipscanada.com and studentawards.com) that provide a database of scholarships, and match you to those that you may qualify for. It makes the process easier!

3. Government Loans and Support

All levels of government in Canada offer some kind of financial assistance to post-secondary students, and there are many options to consider.

Grants: Every year, the federal government hands out approximately 245,000 grants through its Canada Student Grants Program.

Student Loans: Government student loans are based on financial circumstances, and often require you to keep up a certain course load and academic average.

Learn more about the Government of Canada’s assistance programs for education planning and student aid.

4. Employment During School

If possible, and your course load allows it, getting a part-time job while in school may help you during the school year. Look for on-campus, off-campus or virtual job opportunities that pay you while also giving you practical work experience (which means you’re beefing up your resume at the same time!). You can also check job sites that cater to students and new grads such as TalentEgg.ca and jobpostings.ca.

Tip: While you’re looking for a job to fit your schedule, now may be a good time to develop or revisit your budget.

No matter what combination of methods you use to pay for school, every dollar counts. One way to make your funds go further is by taking a financial inventory and creating a budget that works for you. Your budget may even help you feel in more control of your finances and give you a greater sense of confidence throughout college or university.