6 Tips for How to Pay for Your Online Degree

man holding papers and looking happily at laptop screen
man holding papers and looking happily at laptop screen

While continuing your education can be a great way to advance your career, you may still have some hesitations about the time and cost involved. Designed for working professionals, Wilfrid Laurier University’s online programs offer the flexibility and support you need for your busy schedule. While this may ease your concerns about the time commitment, you may still be wondering exactly how to pay for an online degree.

Is Getting an Online Degree Worth the Cost?

Before you investigate how to pay for an online degree, it’s important to first consider how valuable the degree may be for your career.

Investing in higher education is an investment in your future. By expanding your knowledge and skills, you develop confidence and position yourself to move forward. An Undergraduate or Graduate degree opens the door to certain specialties or opportunities that might not be available to you otherwise. Education also equips you for promotions and increased responsibilities.

As you advance your education and career opportunities, you also increase your earning potential. Data from Statistics Canada shows the consistent progression for income levels based on level of education. Earning a college diploma, on average, is a significant step up from a high school diploma. Advancing to a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree continues to increase salary potential.

Is Funding Actually Available?

CBC News reported over $10 million in Canadian scholarships and awards go unclaimed each year. "There's so much money, both externally from companies and non-profits that are being given out, but also internally in institutions because institutions have so much funding available to students," said Madison Guy, founder of GrantMe. "But, not all of it is being given out and not all of it's being applied for."

You may be eligible for more financial aid than you realize. Let’s look at potential funding pathways and resources available to online students in Canada.

How to Pay for an Online Degree

Even when the benefits justify the cost, you still face the reality of financing your education. Fortunately, there are many financial aid opportunities available. By combining a variety of options, funding for your degree may be more accessible than you think.

1. Grants and Bursaries

A grant, sometimes referred to as a bursary, is a financial gift that does not have to be repaid. Grants and bursaries may be awarded by the government, by the university or by private organizations. Funds are distributed to students based on stated criteria through an application process.

Laurier awards bursaries to part-time and full-time students meeting financial need requirements. Students are encouraged to submit an online student profile through Laurier’s Online Registration & Information System (LORIS) to be considered for competitive scholarships, awards and donor-supported bursary opportunities.

The opportunity to submit a student profile is available late summer each year with a submission deadline early in the fall term. Students will receive Laurier bursary updates and deadlines to their MyLaurier email address. Decisions on recipients for all competitive opportunities are made on an ongoing basis. More information about how to apply can be found on the Applying for Scholarships, Awards and Bursaries webpage.

The Government of Canada offers Canada Student Grants up to $1,800 for low and middle-income part-time students. Student aid offices in your province or territory may offer additional grants.

2. Scholarships

Awarded to students based on merit or other qualifications, scholarships, like grants, do not have to be repaid. Scholarships are conferred by the university or by private organizations supporting particular programs. Amounts and requirements will vary depending on the criteria for the specific scholarship.

Laurier offers competitive scholarships and awards for academic achievement and other considerations such as volunteer service. Like bursaries, these Laurier awards are granted to students who submit a student profile on LORIS.

An example of a scholarship awarded from Laurier includes the Laurier Scholarship for Part Time Students. Other scholarships can be found using the Laurier Scholarship and Awards Search Engine.

By researching private scholarships available for your particular interests, you may discover eligibility for additional awards. For example, as a student in the Master of Public Safety program, Kelly Cochrane was presented with scholarships from the Confederation of University Women and the Paramedic Research Consortium of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs.

3. Employer tuition reimbursement programs

Often, employers share an interest in the further education of their employees. Because highly developed expertise helps organizations to be more effective and better accomplish goals, employers gain a return on their investment through tuition reimbursement programs.

As you consider how to pay for an online degree, check with your employer’s Human Resources department to learn about your organization's  tuition reimbursement policies.

For example, the City of Toronto offers up to $1,500 annually in tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing “work-related knowledge and skill improvement.” The Government of Canada sometimes pays for degree costs for public service employees as well.

4. Loans

Student loans for online courses in Canada are available to eligible part-time and full-time students. Student loans must be repaid, but typically not until six months after graduation. The interest rate for student loans is lower than interest on credit cards and many other types of loans.

The Government of Canada offers student loans and simplifies the process by including grants and scholarships in the same application. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, government loan programs have increased the maximum loan amounts available. Additional loan options may be available through your province or territory.

For students who are not eligible for government student loans, banks and other lending institutions offer private student loans. These programs may offer flexible payment plans and interest rates lower than many other loans.

Laurier’s Combined Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing program is eligible for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), however our Bachelor of Policing, Master of Public Safety and Public Safety Graduate Diplomas are not eligible for OSAP at this time. Contact our enrolment advisors who can offer information and tools to start the process of applying for financial aid.

5. Laurier Payment Plan

Students enrolled in Laurier’s Master of Public Safety or Graduate Diploma programs may pay tuition fees in three equal monthly installments through the Laurier Graduate Payment Plan Program.There is a $50 non-refundable Grad Financing Fee for each term a student is enrolled in the plan. Students enrol in the payment program by a stated deadline before a new term begins.

6. Laurier Student Support

Laurier also provides resources for career planning and financial management. These services help students navigate the process of how to pay for an online degree.

Laurier Career Centre

To guide students in gaining employment, the Laurier Career Centre offers a variety of individualized support free for students. The Centre is open by appointment as well as drop-in hours. Services include:

  • Career consulting
  • Job search resources
  • Resume and cover letter assistance
  • Interview coaching

Dollars & Sense Money Management Program

To help students reduce the stress of balancing school and financial responsibilities, Laurier offers the Dollars & Sense Money Management Program. Opportunities include:

  • Workshops on budgeting, responsible credit use, investing and financial planning
  • A non-credit Money Management Certificate recognized by the Laurier Experience Record
  • Financial Coaching is available in-person or by phone with Laurier’s Financial Literacy Specialist, Mackenzie. To book a 30 minute one-on-one appointment, please email moneymanagement@wlu.ca.

woman sitting on couch and working on laptop

Your Online Degree at Laurier

While there are many ways to pay for an online degree, it’s important to feel confident in your investment. Pursuing a public safety program at Laurier gives you flexibility to build your knowledge and career on your own schedule.

Designed for current and future public safety and policing professionals, Laurier offers a broad scope of programs specific to your interests. Current programs include:

  • Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing (BAP)
  • Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing (BACP)
  • Master of Public Safety (MPS)
  • Border Strategies Graduate Diploma
  • Countering Crime Graduate Diploma
  • Emergency Management Graduate Diploma
  • GIS and Data Analytics Graduate Diploma
  • National Security Graduate Diploma

Get Your Program Guide


A top-ranked university, Laurier has a tradition of more than 100 years of excellence. Fully online degree programs are tailored to prepare students for career success and offer:

  • Courses designed by professionals and academics with years of experience in the field
  • Real-life application from the classroom to the workplace
  • Flexible and convenient 100% online format
  • Accessible while working full-time, from anywhere in the country
  • Customized support from success advisors

Connect with an advisor to discover your financial aid options and how to get started on your Wilfrid Laurier University application.

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