Millions of scholarship dollars go unclaimed each year in Canada

You don’t have to be a genius or a sports superstar to qualify for a university scholarship.

Deadline for many scholarships is at the end of May

Financial consultant Lesley-Anne Scorgie says millions of scholarship dollars go unclaimed each year at Canadian universities. (CBC)

You don't have to be a genius or a sports superstar to qualify for a university scholarship.

That's the message from financial expert Lesley-Anne Scorgie as students enter the final stretch of the school year and have to start thinking about tuition fees before heading out for summer vacation.

"What we have, unfortunately, is millions of scholarship dollars being left on the table because students are not bothering to apply," she told The Homestretch.

"What we are finding, is that students believe, or they claim to believe, that the application process is arduous, or they need to have very high marks, or they need to be in a financially precarious position."

But those three things — an arduous application process, the need for high marks or that a student be financially destitute — are requirements in only one-third of scholarships available, she said.

"The other two-thirds of scholarships are up for grabs and that's where the millions of dollars are really sitting."

The president and founder of MeVest, a Calgary-based personal finance coaching company, Scorgie says there are three main databases of available scholarships students can access:

Students can also visit their chosen institution's financial aid office and be paired with an advisor.

"What we recommend is that you first sort by your geography then your field of study and that will narrow it down," she said.

Applications for many scholarships are due around the end of May, said Scorgie.

Students should plan to spend between five and 25 hours per application for each scholarship.

And while it may seem like a lot of time, it can be worth it, she said.

While attending university between 2005 and 2012, Scorgie applied for 21 different scholarships, winning five of them.

"That accounted for 30 per cent of my educational costs, so in my opinion, it was time well spent, and it literally paid off," she told CBC Calgary News at 6.

With files from The Homestretch and CBC Calgary News at 6