WINNIPEG -- Between textbooks, tuition and living expenses, post-secondary education can be expensive.

Suffering from a higher than average dropout rate, the Manitoba Métis Federation is trying to make money less of a problem for university students with Métis heritage.

The federation is giving bursaries to Métis students as part of a multimillion dollar initiative to ensure students can afford school.

"It is fundamental to make sure they complete their vision in their dream. We all know students have a challenging time," said David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

Alyssa Thomas, a fourth-year political science major at the University of Winnipeg, was one of nine university students who received cheques from the federation at a ceremony Saturday.

She plans on going to the University of Manitoba for law school after graduating from her undergrad.

"I think this is incredibly important. With law school to come, that will definitely put me in debt. So to be able to go through my first degree and not go into debt is like a blessing," said Thomas.

The bursary has allowed her to skip getting a part-time job and instead volunteer with the Manitoba Métis Federation.

Métis students already receive a bursary from post-secondary institutions, but the new Post-Secondary Education Support Program will make sure metis students get at least $5000 a year. Students will receive the scholarship every year they are in school.

"We are planning our budget to make sure that we are with that student all the way through," said Chartrand.

Applications for the bursaries opened several months ago, and already over 1000 students have applied.

"We had stories of some of them that they were in tears because they were so happy. It means so much to people. You know every dollar counts," said Joan Ledoux, Manitoba Métis Federation Minister of Education.

The federation says the program isn't just crucial for the Métis but the entire province.

"It's a great potential for not only the Metis but for the province of Manitoba that we'll have skilled people wanting to live here," said Chartrand

The bursary money comes from a 10-year accord with the federal government. Each year just over $9-million will be available for students.

As mandated by the federation, students who receive the bursary have to undergo a mandatory Métis history class before getting the money.