For Brandon University student Natashia Marion, bursaries give her the freedom to focus on her studies.
This is the second year the third-year student has received a bursary from BU, and although it doesn’t quite cover all of her tuition costs, it still "helps out a lot."
"I don’t have to work anymore," Marion said. "Now I can just pay my rent, which is the biggest thing, and it really made a difference last year too."
Although Marion has called Brandon home for nearly 10 years now, her family members still live in Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas, which makes seeing one another difficult.
But the bursary she received last year helped pay for some of her family members to come to Brandon so that they could spend Christmas together.
"Because of that I was able to have a good Christmas," she said. "Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to have a Christmas."
When it comes to offering students grants and bursaries, BU president Deborah Poff said they hope to achieve a million dollar target for each of the university’s faculties. So far, the faculty of science has met that target and the university has also received a number of "significant" monetary gifts towards all of the other faculties, Poff said.
Poff also added the university is working on being able to offer "a bigger value of scholarships and bursaries" to attract students.
"We’re working on both fronts and I think we’ll just make ourselves a more attractive university if we have more funding to offer to potential students."
With hopes of becoming a high school math teacher, Jillian Vanderheiden enrolled at BU this year after working for the past 13 years. The single mother to a teenage boy received $7,000 in scholarships and bursaries this year and said the extra cash has come in handy.
"It helps tremendously," she said. "My whole life has changed and that $7,000 has allowed me to focus on school and my son and I don’t have to be away from home at a part time job."
Both students said they recommend other BU students apply online on the university website for awards and bursaries every year as they become available. Although applying may be a lengthy process, it’s "well worth it in the end," Vanderheiden said.