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Sports scholarships in Canada for international students

U Sports is the national sport governing body of university sport in Canada, comprising the majority of degree-granting universities in the country. Its equivalent body for organised sports at colleges in Canada is the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Some institutions are members of both bodies for different sports.

The U Sports member institutions offer athletic scholarships known as Athletic Financial Awards (AFA); subject to minimum academic requirements. The AFA’s are capped and may not exceed the value of the tuition and compulsory fees for the student-athlete. Universities also may provide additional non-athletic awards including academic scholarships and needs-based grants for athletes in addition to this cap, provided the additional awards do not include athletic criteria. In 2008/2009 one in two U Sports athletes was receiving an athletic scholarship.

There are 56 member universities in U Sports. These 56 member universities are currently organised into the four following regional associations. In some of these sports, these associations are sometimes referred to as conferences. Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

Am I eligible for a Canadian U Sports Scholarship?

For U Sports student-athletes entering their first year of university, they must maintain a minimum grade point average of 80% out of high school to qualify for prize money. If an athlete is unable to do so, they may be able to gain an athletic scholarship at the end of their first year if they acquire a 65% average or higher. Similarly, maintaining scholarship eligibility once in university is dependent on a 65% average at the beginning of each year. In Ontario, this magic number is slightly higher at 70%. Additionally, athletic performance is also a key factor that contributes to the amount of the scholarship money an athlete can receive. Generally, the faster the time, the greater the jump, or further the throw can result in a larger scholarship for you, but it is important to contact coaches and universities you are interested in to see how much you can be offered in their specific program.

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Canadian Universities
U Sports Member Schools
U Sports Athletes
Years of College Sports

Additional Factors to Consider

Roster Size

It is not unusual for a top U Sports soccer programme to have a roster of over 50 players including their Junior Varsity team, so this may mean places for spots on the team are incredibly competitive and you may not get much playing time in your first season. This can particularly be true for goalkeepers if they go to a team that already has 2 or 3 more senior players in that position.

City, Suburb or Town?

Concentrating the issue of location, the type of area can be as important as the region. Be aware that the majority of universities are not located in the center of large cities. Many of the great universities—that attract thousands of international students each year—are in small cities, even towns. This can be a very big adjustment for students from huge cities, so take that into consideration. Yet, tens of thousands of students each year settle into their studies in small cities or towns. Most people can adapt to a new reality. If living in a metropolitan or large city is really important to you, there are hundreds of schools in the heart of major cities but they are typically more expensive.

Total Costs

Try to calculate the total cost for your studies, including living expenses. You can often get this information on a colleges’ websites. Elite, private colleges and universities usually have higher tuition costs than public universities.

Work Opportunities

When starting your search for a school and team in Canada being able to work on campus might not be high on your list of priorities; however, once out there you will realize that having a source of income can make a big difference and enable you to enjoy your experience more. Because with an F1 student visa you are unable to work off campus it usually means the school will give you prioritisation for job opportunities on campus that become available – these jobs can range from assisting your coach or being a teaching assistant to working in the library or campus café.

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