Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Jerome Donovan
Yes, you can study in Canada for free after you move, but I will be honest with you. While there are free education opportunities in Canada, you have to either be exceptional or apply for a fully funded scholarship. These are the best two routes that will get you free education in Canada. Education in Canada is generally cheaper compared to other English-speaking countries such as USA. However, you can always study for free if you know the right places to look into. The bottom line is that you have to apply for scholarships. The scholarships won’t come looking for you, so you have to participate to secure one.
Usually, the recommendation is to apply for as many scholarships as possible. This way, you increase your chance of securing a scholarship that is fully funded, and ensures that you study in Canada for free. Merely moving to Canada does not automatically mean that you will study for free. The truth is that Canada considers international students a source of income, which is why they normally charge international students more money for school fees.
Can a Poor International Student Study in Canada?
In Canada, anyone with good academic performance can pursue their studies, regardless of their financial background. For residents, family income isn’t a barrier to education, thanks to various grants and bursaries that cover educational expenses.
However, the scenario is different for international students. If you are an international student, you need to secure a scholarship to study in Canada for free. Canadian universities receive significant funding from provincial and federal governments, primarily to benefit the country’s citizens. These citizens contribute through taxes and, in return, enjoy benefits like highly subsidized or nearly free education at all levels.
As an international student, you and your family haven’t contributed to Canada’s tax system, and there’s no expectation that you’ll remain in the country post-graduation. Consequently, free education and financial aid like grants and bursaries are scarce for international students. To study in Canada for free, a foreign student has to go through a scholarship.
Once you receive a fully funded scholarship and are admitted to a Canadian university, the admissions office will guide you through obtaining a student visa. Admission is contingent on proving that you can financially support your education, which is through free scholarships. After 3 years of study as an international student, you will typically find a simple path to a work permit, Permanent Residence visa, and eventually, citizenship.
Study in Canada for Free
You can study in Canada for free in so many ways. However, the best way is to apply for a scholarship. You can find scholarships, and apply to them as many as you can to increase your chance of securing one of them.
1. Free Canada Scholarships for International Students
Living and studying in Canada can be expensive. However, there’s good news for international students: many Canadian universities offer fully-funded scholarships. These scholarships are a huge help, as they can cover most, if not all, of the costs associated with studying abroad.
2. Work Part-Time While Studying
The cost of studying abroad can add up quickly if you are not on a Canadian scholarship, but working part-time while studying can offset your expenses. In Canada, the student permit allows international students to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during breaks. This will help you manage expenses and opens up the possibility of covering the entire cost of studying in Canada through a combination of earnings and scholarships.
3. Apply for Tuition Waivers
Tuition waivers are another way to access education in Canada without a heavy financial burden. They are different from scholarships in several ways. While scholarships are usually awarded based on academic achievement or talent and can come from various sources, tuition waivers are often based on financial need and are granted by the institution or government. Here are some scenarios in which tuition waivers are typically awarded:
- Financial Need. Students who can’t afford the costs and don’t have sufficient parental support might be eligible for a tuition waiver.
- Employment Benefits. If you’re working full-time at the institution where you plan to study, you might get a tuition waiver as a part of your employment benefits.
- Academic Excellence. Outstanding students might receive a full or partial tuition waiver based on their academic performance.
4. Seek Scholarships from Governments
With a Canadian government scholarship, you can study in Canada for free. This is a practical approach for international students to afford education in Canada. Also, you can use a scholarship program provided by the government of your home country. Such scholarships are often awarded to students who demonstrate strong academic performance and a keen interest in studying abroad in Canada.
Here are a couple of notable scholarships:
- Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (for PhD students) This prestigious scholarship, offered by the Canadian government, is available to all international PhD candidates. To be eligible, you must exhibit outstanding academic achievements, research capabilities, and leadership skills. Successful applicants receive up to CAD$50,000 per year for three years.
- Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) The SEED program facilitates short-term study or research exchanges in Canadian post-secondary institutions for students from ASEAN countries. It’s open to students at various levels, including college, undergraduate, and graduate studies.
5. Opt for Online Programs
You can enroll in virtual programs; however, this is not a way to study in Canada for free, but rather a cost-effective method, and tuition fees still apply. Online learning eliminates the need for relocation or daily commuting, leading to significant savings in both time and money. But if you plan to move to Canada and study and work there, this is not a good option at all. However, an added advantage of studying online at a Canadian university is that students completing their degrees entirely online are still eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), provided they have a student permit.
Cheap Online Schools in Canada
Laurentian University and Queen’s University are two prominent institutions in Canada that are cheap. So, if a scholarship is not an option, then you have to consider studying in a cheap online school.
At Laurentian University, students have access to a diverse range of over 350 courses across more than 27 degree programs. These programs cover various fields, such as criminology, sociology, and business administration. The university is flexible in learning and allows students to complete their degrees entirely online or opt for a mix of virtual and on-campus studies for a year, enhancing their international student experience.
Queen’s University is a pioneer in distance learning in Canada. They have been offering courses through mail as early as 1889. Today, it boasts a robust online learning platform with over 140 courses in areas like engineering, law, arts and science, education, health sciences, and applied science.
The courses are designed for self-paced learning with recorded classes, though they maintain strict deadlines for assignments and coursework. Additionally, some courses blend online and in-person learning, offering valuable experiential learning opportunities.
Which Canadian University is Free for international students?
Some universities in Canada, not in the sense that you won’t pay money, but in the sense that you can get an automatic scholarship to study for free if you are eligible as an international student. Some of the Canadian universities that are free for international students are:
University of Toronto
At the University of Toronto, the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship is a prestigious opportunity for international students who have shown exceptional academic and creative achievements.
This scholarship is specifically for those enrolling in first-entry undergraduate programs. Each year, 37 students are chosen to receive this scholarship, which comprehensively covers their tuition, books, incidental fees, and residence for four years.
Over at York University, the International Entrance Scholarship of Distinction is awarded based on the academic performance and scores of the students. This scholarship provides an annual amount of CAD 35,000, and it can be received for a maximum of four years, amounting to a total of CAD 140,000.
University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba offers International Undergraduate Student Entrance Scholarships, recognizing academic excellence among international students coming from international high schools. The value of these scholarships is determined annually and varies according to the high school grade averages of the applicants.
University of British Columbia
Lastly, the University of British Columbia has the Donald A. Wehrung International Student Award. This scholarship targets academically outstanding international students from impoverished or war-torn regions. It offers financial assistance, although the exact benefit amount can vary.
These scholarships will make education at these Canadian universities free for international students who meet the criteria and are fortunate enough to be selected.
Who is Eligible for Free Education in Canada?
Canadian universities charge lower fees for residents of the same province. For instance, students in Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador enjoy some of the lowest tuition rates. International students tend to pay more; however, it is still cheaper compared to the U.S. and the U.K.
Regarding financial aid and scholarships, provinces like Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta offer significant financial aid packages, including scholarships and bursaries. Ontario even had a program offering free college to low-income students for a time.
Each Canadian province has its own higher education system, and tuition fees are set by the provinces, not individual schools. This results in varying costs and financial aid opportunities across the country.
Canadian universities have increasingly relied on tuition fees from international students. Despite the higher costs, the number of international students in Canada has been rising.
Canada does not offer preferential treatment to any nationality for visas. However, some U.S. states have cross-border partnerships with Canadian provinces for education at local rates.
Essential Documents for Study Application:
- Academic Transcripts
- Letters of Recommendation
- Proof of Finances
- English Proficiency Proof
- Valid Passport
How to Apply for a Canadian Visa
- First, apply to your chosen university in Canada.
- Once you get this, you can start your visa application.
- Gather all necessary documents for your study permit and apply through the online portal.
Steps to Gain Permanent Residency (PR) in Canada Through Study
- After completing their studies, international students can apply for PR.
- Consider the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP), Express Entry, Family Sponsorship, or Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).
- You should have completed a minimum two-year program, have some work experience, and prove your English language proficiency.
So, Is it Worth Moving to Canada as an International Student?
Since foreigners can study in Canada for free, moving to Canada as an international student is worth it only if you apply and receive a free scholarship. From the start, we have emphasized the need to apply for a 100% scholarship that will make sure that you study in Canada for free.
Read also: Warehouse Jobs in Canada for Foreigners 2024