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Financing Your Post-Secondary Education

The cost of a post-secondary education can be high, but there are a variety of ways to generate funds and/or to lower your costs.  Consider the following:

1.  Working part-time while in high school – the money you earn and save now can be used after graduation to cover costs.
2.  Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) – these plans include tax benefits for the adult who has initiated the plan, and grants/learning bonds paid into the fund by government which increase the savings.  Check with your parents or other adult family members to see if they have put money aside for you in this manner.  For more details, click here.
3.  Living at home – paying for accommodation and food, whether in residence or living independently, is the greatest expense of all.  While living at home may not be ‘free’ (some parents may ask for a contribution to help cover costs), it can be far less expensive than living on your own.
4.  Studying at a college or other public non-university institution – tuition is generally lower at these institutions, and many of the programs are very practical and career-oriented, meaning that you will enter the work-force and earn an income sooner.  Even if your goal is a university degree, spending one or two years in a university-transfer program can save half the cost of tuition compared to a university.
5.  Working part-time during your post-secondary studies – whether you study full- or part-time, part-time work will generate a continual income.  Studying part-time will allow greater flexibility to incorporate paid work into your schedule.  Many post-secondary institutions have employment programs for their students, providing paid work on campus, especially for those in financial need.
6.  Participating in a Co-operative Education Program, Internship or Apprenticeship – many post-secondary institutions provide opportunities for students to work in jobs related to their field of studies.  Not only is this a way to earn an income and make contacts, but students develop useful skills and gain valuable, relevant experience that can provide insight into future employment opportunities.
7.  Scholarships – there are literally hundreds of scholarships available to be awarded to worthy students.  For more details, click here
8.  Applying for a Student Loan – loans are based upon financial need, which is generally demonstrated in relation to family income.  In your application you will provide details of this information, in addition to projected expenses and other sources of funding.  Grants, which are non-repayable, may also be provided.  Bursaries, which are cash or credit awards, are often provided by institutions (see their websites), in the case there is further unmet financial need after receipt of a student loan.  Click here for the student loan website.

Most post-secondary institution websites provide details about fixed costs (eg. tuition, residence) and variable expenses (eg. texts, rent/food if living off-campus, transportation).  This information is useful for planning, especially if you intend to apply for student loans.  Some even provide additional helpful tools and worksheets to use for financial planning.  

For further information about financial planning in relation to your post-secondary education, check out the following websites:

The Government of Canada's Education Funding Page 

Student Aid BC (useful for planning, not just applying for a Student Loan)

Student Budget Worksheet

UBC's First Year Budget Planning Worksheet

University of Toronto Financial Planning Calculator


Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (contains many useful tools and links for students and parents)  

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