Paying for university

Financial options checklist

Educational costs can be challenging. The good news is that many options can help you manage expenses and cut costs. And you can still having a great university experience! Below is a list of funding options you will want to look into to help finance your educational costs.

Existing funds

These are resources you already have, including savings, investments, and gifts.

Family contributions

Family members may be able to lend or gift you money to assist with your education.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

An investment plan used by parents and caregivers to save for their learner's post-secondary education.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

Students can withdraw money from RRSPs tax-free. They must be enrolled in full-time post-secondary studies for at least three months of the year. They can take out up to $10,000 per year and up to $20,000 total over four years. RRSP withdrawals are payed back over 10 years. Repayment begins the year after the last year of your enrollment. Or, it begins six years after the first withdrawal (whichever comes first).


Review your assets. See what you could sell to pay for your education.


Save funds from summer and part-time jobs. Check out VIU's on-campus student jobs and off-campus student employment. To use the off-campus student employment system, called our Experience Hub, create your profile. Then search for jobs.

The Canada Summer Jobs program for youth between 15 and 30 years old. It's a great way to earn work experience and money. If you need help with career exploration, resumes, job searches and interviews, check out our Career Studio. Here are a couple of other places to look for jobs:

VIU Scholarships, awards and bursaries

VIU offers money and other benefits like free tuition to eligible students. 

External awards

External awards include scholarships, awards and bursaries. They are offered by agencies unaffiliated with VIU. Check out this great way to pay for school!

Learn more about External awards

Bank loans

Many financial institutions offer student lines of credit and loans.

Government student loans and grants

BC Residents can apply for student loans at StudentAid BC. If you are not a BC Resident, you can apply for a student loan through your home province or territory.

Loan applications are available mid-June each year. They usually take 4-6 weeks to process. So ensure you apply early.

Adult Upgrading Grant

The Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG) is funding from the BC provincial government that you do not pay back. It is for students in Adult Basic Education (ABE) or Workplace Essential Skills Training (WEST) or English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.

Learn more about Adult Upgrading Grant Funding.

Canada Learning Bond

The Canada Learning Bond could be another source of funding. Questions? Email for more information. 

Student loan estimators

The Canada Student Financial Assistance program has tools that help you. They will help you figure out how much school will cost and how much you could get in government loans. When you are done, they can also tell you of the amount you may need to repay. The types of estimator tools include:

  • Education Savings Calculator
  • Parental Contribution Calculator
  • Student Financial Assistance Estimator
  • Loan Repayment Estimator

BC former Youth in Care-tuition waiver and grant programs

Former youth in care in BC can have their tuition waived for post-secondary education. The provincial tuition waiver program is now available for your lifetime. It applies to former youth in care of any age.

To apply for the BC Provincial Tuition Waiver program, get more information, and to see other funding options for former Youth in Care, check out the info at StudentAid BC. Or, contact us to get more information and to apply.

VIU education abroad awards

Check out Education Abroad for money to study outside of Canada.

VIU research, graduate, conference and travel awards

If you will attend or present at a conference, workshop or colloquia, contact the Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity department.

VIU trades programs

Check out these funding options to pay for your training

VIU international scholarships, awards and bursaries

Visit International scholarships and awards for important deadlines.

Other funding and information links

Here are a few other websites that offer a wealth of useful tips and information on student loans, bursaries, awards and scholarships. They’re well worth checking out, as you may discover a source of additional funds

Transitioning to university is a big step. Check out some of the supports VIU offers to make your transition here as smooth as possible.

Academic Advising

You might want to see an Academic Advisor to discover, plan and work toward your educational goals. You can achieve a more fulfilling educational experience through an advising relationship. Academic Advisors are available to answer questions or steer you in the right direction when questions arise.

Contact an Academic Advisor at

Accessibility Services

Accessibility Services provide information, support services and reasonable accommodation to students with documented disabilities.

For more information, email


VIU counsellors are available for counselling in person, by phone, and by Zoom. This is a free service to VIU students.

For more information call 250.740.6416

Financial Aid and Awards office

The VIU Financial Aid and Awards office is committed to supporting students in their search for financial assistance including provincial and federal loans and grants, and internal and external scholarships, awards and bursaries.

Got questions? Email

Off-Campus Housing

Off-Campus Housing is private, rented accommodation. Students coming to Nanaimo search for accommodation and sign a legal contract with a local landlord. VIU does not communicate directly with landlords to find accommodation but we will support you with resources and local information. There are different types of accommodation to choose from and choices to make about your budget. The housing market in Nanaimo can be a challenge to navigate and it may take time finding your new home. We recommend getting to know the local market and learning about renting in British Columbia as soon as possible.

For more information email

Services for Aboriginal Students

Services for Aboriginal Students provides culturally appropriate services to Indigenous students with one-on-one in-person appointments, phone calls and emails for: advising, first level counselling, financial aid, scholarships, funding options, career counselling, daycare and housing.

For more information email

Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement

Indigenous Education Navigators are here to provide outreach to new and current Indigenous students to create seamless transitions into Vancouver Island University.

For more information email