By Gordon McIntyre
Special to the Langley Advance
There’s the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change …
Then there’s GrantMe, a service that aims to provide serenity to students by changing financial woes into worry-free fiscal soundness.
“There are literally millions of dollars available every year (to students),” said Langley native Madison Guy, founder of GrantMe.ca, which promises to wind its way through the convoluted, complicated, and often incomprehensible world of applying for educational grants and awards.
“When I arrived at UBC, I had no idea how much it was going to cost to attend university,” Guy said. And she had a scholarship to play soccer for the Thunderbirds.
But that didn’t cover residency, food, books, and other expenses. And since soccer took up six hours a day, a part-time job was out of the question.
Her parents were generously supportive but tapped out financially and it was obvious Guy needed to find a source of money to continue beyond her second year. Quitting wasn’t in the cards and going into debt with a student loan was distasteful.
“After a lot of research and many applications, I was able to secure more than $50,000 in scholarships and awards, which paid for my entire education,” she said.
She polled fellow student-athletes and several were in the same boat – running out of money or piling up big debts.
“They loved UBC and their sport, but were constantly stressed about how they were going to pay for it all,” Guy said.
Within three months, she said she helped varsity athletes at the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University and Douglas College get scholarships and awards worth more than $110,000.
As an aside: It’s difficult to trace a straight line between ending her money concerns and being named the captain of the UBC soccer team – that won a national championship while Guy was being named an CIS all-academic; but being monetarily stress-free, she believes, was a big part of her on-field and in-class success.
“Loads of students, athletes or not, are struggling to pay for their education,” the 22-year-old grad of the Sauder Business School said.
“There is more than $5 million in unclaimed scholarships and awards every year. Students haven’t been given the resources and tools to access it.”
Guy’s UBC career over, she’s devoting 12 and 14 hours a day to GrantMe (www.grantme.ca).
She needs to hire a tech-support person and someone to assist with administration, she said.
“You can get overwhelmed with information,” Guy said.
“You can go online and find 400 scholarships, no problem, right away. But how do you find out which of the one or two of those you will be eligible for?
“Another problem is a lot of times the deadline or method of applying is unclear. I remember being on the phone for two hours at a time talking to two or three people who are authorizing these scholarships, I’d get two or three completely different answers.”
The best time to get started, Guy said, is in high school.
“If you wait until you’re accepted into university, you can be overwhelmed,” she said. “You’re already writing 16 essays, you don’t want to be spending a load of time looking for the funding that’s available.”
– Gordon McIntyre is a writer with the Vancouver Sun