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When do scholarships start?

One of the questions I get most often is about when Canadian scholarships start. It’s a good question and one that is important to understand, because most scholarships only have one window of time when you can apply for them during your entire lifetime.

What do most scholarships have in common?

All scholarships are different, but many of them have a few things in common. One thing they have in common is that each one has a limited availability. Almost all scholarships are available for a period of time (usually about one month) and then they’re gone. And once they’re gone, they are usually gone forever.

With scholarships, timing may not be everything, but it sure is important!

Scholarships start early

Scholarships start to be offered in September of grade 12

That’s right – the very first month of grade 12! Most students and parents are surprised by that. Students are just getting settled into their classes and new schedule, and BOOM! It’s time to start thinking about scholarships.

There are opportunities to apply for scholarships all year

Here’s the main thing you need to know about when scholarships are offered: they are offered all year long. There is no one specific time when they are all available; there is no one specific time when they are all due. They open and close throughout the entire grade 12 year.

The majority of Canadian scholarships are offered between December and May, but there will be some before then, and some after then.

Grade 12 is your best opportunity to win scholarships

Knowing when scholarships are offered is important because grade 12 is your best opportunity to win scholarships. There will never be another time in your life—ever!—when there are more opportunities for scholarships.

Once you get into post-secondary there will still be opportunities for scholarships, but not nearly as many as there are in grade 12. Also, the biggest awards are usually earmarked for students entering university for the first time directly from high school. This is when you have the most opportunities for scholarships valued at $20,000, $40,000 and even up to $120,000! Once you’re attending Canadian universities, it’s relatively rare to see scholarships even at the $5000 level.

The big scholarships are often before admission deadlines

Another tip: The biggest scholarships tend to be offered near the start of grade 12.

University major scholarship deadlines

For example, the major scholarship deadlines for The University of Toronto and Queens are usually on or before December 1. Yes, that’s before the admission deadline.

Tip: you often don’t have to wait to be admitted to the university before you apply for scholarships. McGill makes that point very clearly on their website…

Of course, you must be admissible to the university and meet the requirements for the scholarship to be eligible for it. But often you don’t have to have received an offer of admission before you submit your scholarship application.

External Canadian scholarships have early deadlines too

In addition to the scholarships offered by universities, two of the biggest external scholarships in Canada—the Loran valued at $100,000 and the TD Leadership valued at $70,000—have deadlines of October and November, respectively. That’s super early!

A scholarship expert can help save time and stress

Another thing you need to keep in mind about timing for scholarships is that grade 12 is busy. Super busy. You’ll have a lot on your plate between September and December when some early scholarship deadlines come up. Grade 12 is busy normally, but when you add in time required to find and apply for scholarships, it can get frenetic!

That’s why working with an expert like me, someone who knows scholarships, and knows what the funders are looking for, is so valuable. I can help you save time, reduce stress, and provide proven strategies for success. My clients have won the Loran, the TD Leadership, the Queen’s Major Admission Awards scholarships, and many others.

How to work with a scholarship expert

I will be working with select grade 12 students from August 2022 to January 2023. If you’d like to see if we’re a good fit to work together, please contact me to discuss!

The experts start in August

One more tip: If you’re considering applying for these early awards, especially the Loran or the TD Leadership, I suggest you start working on the applications in August.

Once school starts, you’ll have a lot on your plate. Having a good head start on the applications will save you a lot of time and stress later. Plus, it will make your applications much stronger, so you’ll maximize your chances of success.

If you’re serious about scholarships, get a head start before school begins in September. I can work with you one-to-one in August to help you get set up for success. Contact me today to find out how.

Best wishes,

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.


Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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