How to pay for your post-secondary education

Explore how students pay for their post-secondary education, career or skills training in Alberta.


There are many ways to pay for your post-secondary education or training.

Most students in Alberta pay for school by:

  • working and saving money
  • applying for free money like scholarships, awards, bursaries and grants
  • borrowing money through student loans and lines of credit

Work and save money

You may be able to pay for some or all of your post-secondary education with money you have saved or that you earn while studying. You may be able to draw from:

For example, Alberta apprentices earn while they learn, which helps to offset some of their learning and living expenses.

Learn more about working and saving money to pay for school.

Apply for free money

If you need help paying for school, there are organizations that will give you free money to help with the costs. This money is different than student loans because you don’t have to pay it back.

Free money for school is offered through:

  • scholarships and awards
  • bursaries
  • grants

Each year, millions of dollars of scholarships and bursaries in Canada go unclaimed. Remember that money is often awarded for things other than high grades or athletic ability. But you won’t land the money if you don’t apply.

Learn more about applying for free money to pay for school.

Borrow money

Borrowing money is called taking out a loan. If you need help paying for your post-secondary education, student loans give you the money now and you pay it back later (with interest).

There are different ways that you can borrow money:

  • government student loan
  • student line of credit
  • student credit card
  • borrowing from friends and family

Apply for a student loan through Alberta Student Aid or the National Student Loan Service Centre.

When you apply for an Alberta student loan, you are also automatically considered for grants if you have financial need.

Learn more about borrowing money to pay for school.

If you are a registered apprentice, visit apprenticeship and industry training for more information on apprenticeship funding and supports.

Funding for essential skills

Programs are available to help you develop your essential skills and prepare for success in your career or post-secondary studies. You may be eligible for financial help to take academic upgrading, English as a second language, or adult literacy programs if you want to:

  • learn new skills
  • start on a path to other learning options
  • find or get a better job

Many of these programs offer tuition or other supports, depending on your financial situation.

Read more about financial support for building your essential skills or contact Alberta Supports for more information.

Create a spending plan

Setting up a spending plan before you start school can help you manage your money. A spending plan is a budget that helps you:

  • understand what you can afford
  • plan to reach your goals
  • get the most for your money
  • make your money last until the end of the school year

Learn more about budgeting for student life and creating a student spending plan.


Connect with the following websites for adult student financial assistance:

Alberta Student Aid Service Centre (post-secondary student loans and grants in Alberta)

National Student Loans Service Centre (Canada student loans and grant programs)

Alberta Supports (programs that can help you find a better job)

Tradesecrets (Apprenticeship and Industry Training)