Grant money for school: How to get the funds to develop your skills—and advance your career

Ontario grant programs

Here is a sampling of grant programs in Ontario. Not living here? Check out your provincial or territorial government employment website for similar programs: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Better Jobs Ontario

Better Jobs Ontario, formerly known as Second Career, is focused on supporting Ontarians taking courses that last no more than a year, including microcredential courses. It’s aimed at those who have been laid off or who have been unemployed for six months or longer, but recently it was expanded to serve gig workers, youth and people on social assistance. For instance, you can also apply if you receive unemployment insurance or if you receive assistance through Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.

The $28,000 available through Better Jobs Ontario can go a long way toward tuition, books and other course materials. To qualify, applicants must have been laid-off, and they are not working or working a temporary job to cover expenses. People who have not been laid-off but who have been unemployed for six months or longer and belong to a low-income household may also qualify. 

Ontario Learn and Stay Grant

Launched in 2023, the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant program was designed to provide full, upfront tuition for those living in communities across the province who are studying practical nursing, paramedical training and medical lab tech skills, for example. Applications for 2024 will open this spring. Already in school? You can still apply after you’ve started a course, as long as you do so 60 days before you finish your studies with an approved institution.

The government is providing $61 billion in funding to be divided among all applicants between now and Spring 2026. The key stipulation here is that you must agree to stay and work within what the province defines as an underserved community after graduation. Grey Bruce and Simcoe counties, for instance, have described the Ontario Stay and Learn Grant as a way to address the many health-care jobs it will have to fill over the next decade.

Ontario Graduate Scholarship 

The Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program (OGS) is similar to the Canada Graduate Scholarship, but is offered at the provincial level. OGS is a merit-based scholarship that assesses applicants based on the ranking criteria of the school you’ve been accepted to attend. In other words, participating schools, which include Queen’s University, Western University, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, and others, will determine who receives scholarships. 

The scholarship amount awarded is based on the number of consecutive terms you’ll be enrolled up to a maximum of six consecutive terms. Up to $10,000 is available for two consecutive study terms or $15,000 for three consecutive study terms. Check for other equivalents to OGS in B.C., Alberta and other provinces

Corporate and non-profit funding for school

If you’ve exhausted government funding options or want to go that extra mile to secure dollars you can invest in your education, then there are plenty of corporate scholarships worth considering. The RBC Future Launch scholarship offers $1,500 to those aged 15 to 29 who are taking short-term courses, workshops or certification programs. And BMO Funding Futures Scholarships is a four-year, renewable scholarship that has recently focused on Black Canadians and provided $500,000 to 150 students.

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