Financing a Post-Secondary Education

Parent and Child reviewing a Sheridan view book

Once students accept their offer of admission, the reality for parents sets in. Someone needs to pay for this. As a parent, chances are pretty good you’ll be helping to cover some of the costs. But how?
Most Canadian families do not have enough money set aside to fully fund a post-secondary education. Luckily, parents and students have several options when it comes to paying for post-secondary education.

Academic Awards and Scholarships

Sheridan offers several financial awards. Scholarships are awarded based on criteria that may include academic achievement, community involvement, demonstrated leadership skills and financial need. Bursaries are awarded based primarily on financial need, although academic achievement and community involvement may be considered. The great thing about these is they don’t have to be paid back. Think of it as free money!


The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a mix of government grants and loans for eligible Ontario students. With one application students are considered for a range of funding options. Read more on the types of government assistance available and eligibility requirements.


Many parents and grandparents save for their student’s post-secondary education by contributing to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). When students graduate from high school and enrol in an approved post-secondary program, they have access to the money for expenses related to school. A benefit about RESPs is the federal government may add up to $500 per year, per child. Another bonus: The money withdrawn is taxed in the student’s name, which may mean little to no taxes paid.

Part-time and Summer Jobs

Parents should sit down and talk with students about how they can contribute. Should they set aside part of their paycheque? Do they have any savings earmarked for school? It’s important to discuss your expectations and keep the communication open. Money talk may not be ideal dinner conversation, but it’s an important subject that will continue to permeate their life.

Each family has a different plan of action when it comes to funding post-secondary education. After going over our finances, my family was able to come up with a solution that worked for us. Part of our arrangement included the stipulation that our son would be responsible for his own fun money and all costs related to travel. That summer he squirrelled away a significant amount from his job as a server. He also became a lot more selective about where he spent his money.

Jennifer Lloyd

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