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What is FREE Money - and What Does it Cost? Options to Finance Post-Secondary Education

By Lettie Croskery, LRSD Career Practitioner

What is your favourite “MONEY” themed song of all time? Mine is the Flying Lizards 1979 rendition of “Money” (...that’s what I want!). The simple lyrics clearly outline that “Money don’t get everything it’s true...what it doesn’t get I can’t use! I want money!” 

Since my early university days, I have managed for the most part to stay within a relatively modest budget while working in a field that I absolutely love. One of the BEST parts of my job as a Career Practitioner is the opportunity to help students find and apply for scholarships, grants and bursaries (what we call “FREE” money!) to support them in their studies beyond high school!

Earlier this school year, the Livingstone Range School Division Career Practitioner team developed the concept for an evening session of interest to families with students in all grade levels. Using what we thought was the catchy title of “It Doesn’t Grow on Trees”, the sessions would feature information about RESPs, Alberta Government student loans and grants as well as the numerous scholarships and bursaries available for deserving students. We are now working to produce a webinar with the same information which can be viewed from home. Watch for that coming out in late May!

Many students tell us they have limited knowledge of the exact costs of completing post-secondary education as well as how to access scholarships and apply for student loans. We created the following chart for students and parents to explore how costs vary depending upon the institution, length of program, tuition fees, textbooks and living costs. 



University of Lethbridge

Lethbridge College



Bachelor of Arts Degree

Agricultural Science Diploma

Automotive Service Technician Apprenticeship




4 (8 week sessions)

Tuition/fees per year








On Campus Housing (lowest and highest)

$3,288 - $9,448

$5,280 - $7,690


Meal plan (if applicable)


Living off campus (shared accommodations)




Food (if no meal plan)




1 Year total

$17,037 - $22,970

$13, 074 - $19,394

$7276 - $ 9446

Completion total

$68,148 - $92,880

$26,148 - $38,788

$29,104 - $37,784


The fact is, education can be costly and students benefit greatly by understanding what their investment will be and how to find the most opportunities to effectively reduce or eliminate their reliance upon student loans.

For one Willow Creek Composite High School 2019 graduate, Megan Mullen, university classes became so much more affordable with the additional $8,600 she secured in scholarships and grants to start her degree at the University of Lethbridge. Megan was delighted to receive the Canadian Horatio Alger scholarship ($5000 value), a grant of $1440 from Alberta Student Aid, the Alexander Rutherford Scholarship (up to $2500 for Alberta students based on average marks in grades 10, 11 and 12) and a $500 scholarship from her part-time job at A & W. 

As we ‘go to press’ with this article, we have received word that one of our Livingstone Range School Division grade 12 students, Ben Sharp, has been awarded the prestigious Schulich Scholarship (valued at a whopping $80,000!) to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at the University of Alberta beginning in September 2020! Two other students in our district received wonderful news this week as well. Brooke Hammond has received over $13,000 in scholarships towards her Engineering degree from the University of Calgary which she will begin in September; and Amanjot Sran has been awarded a full scholarship to attend Pearson College in Victoria, a United World College, to complete grade 12 there next year.

Many students (myself included, back in the day!) incorrectly assume that most grant applications are out of reach and require too much effort to apply. One of our key roles as Career Practitioners is to research and compile scholarship information to ease students into the process while encouraging them to apply for just about every scholarship going! In many cases, one well-written essay can be used to fulfill the requirements to apply for multiple scholarships, and writing/editing assistance is always available from school Career Practitioners, Teachers and Administrators. These individuals are also likely to help write letters of recommendation or serve as references for you!

While good grades are always an asset, many scholarship sponsors want to provide money to “well-rounded” students or those who have achieved a consistent average in spite of financial and personal challenges. Community volunteerism is a big determinant for many scholarships, particularly those from local service groups.

The Livingstone Range School Division provides $4,500 in scholarships every year to deserving students within the division. These scholarships include:

  1. Livingstone Macleod Association Bursary Fund ($2,000 for grade 12 graduates pursuing a career in the trades with training at Olds College, Lethbridge College, SAIT and NAIT - if unavailable at SAIT).
  2. The ENMAX Environmental Leadership Scholarship ($1,000 for grade 12 graduates with 65% GPA who are pursuing environmental studies).
  3. The Dr. Lloyd Cavers Scholarship ($1,000 for a grade 12 graduate who is nominated by his/her LRSD school in recognition of their leadership and community activities). All nominees not selected for the award receive $200.00 in recognition of the students' distinct contributions).
  4. The Academic Award of $500 for the student at each high school who attains the highest average (based on the students’ final school mark in the five highest subjects from Math 30-1, Math 30-2, Math 31, Social 30-1, Social 30-2, ELA 30-1, ELA 30-2, Biology 30, Physics 30, Chemistry 30) and is registered in a post-secondary institution. 

Full details on the LRSD awards and many other scholarships are available on the Career Services pages under “Scholarships and Loan Information” tab featured on all of our high school websites, or by contacting your school’s Career Practitioner directly. In summary, our advice is: “When in doubt, APPLY, APPLY, APPLY!” because it really doesn’t get better than accumulating “free” money.


Lettie Croskery (croskeryl@lrsd.ab.ca)
Willow Creek Composite High School
J.T. Foster School

Christy Bazell (bazellc@lrsd.ab.ca)
F.P. Walshe School
Matthew Halton High School

Jennifer Ziebert (ziebertj@lrsd.ab.ca)
Crowsnest Consolidated High School 
Livingstone School

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