It's Your Money  

Tough year for students

In a typical year, many post-secondary students would have spent their summer saving up for school expenses.

But COVID related lockdowns have affected the ability for many to earn income and the stress of expenses for this school year are much higher than normal.

In normal times, the cost of post-secondary education is high. Tuition while steep is just the beginning. Books, lodging and living expenses all pile up to the tune of about $60,000 for an average four-year program.

A professional degree such as law, medicine or engineering will typically cost twice that.

While this year may be more daunting than normal, there are still a number of things you can do to help ease the financial burden. 

If you haven’t done so already, make it a priority to apply for every available scholarship, bursary or grant that you can find related to your school and program.

Your education institution should have resources available to help guide you through this process.

Doing extensive research is key here as some grants are harder to find and in many years, a lot of grants will go unclaimed due to a lack of applications.

You should also look into any government related grants and loans available. Google “Canada Student Grants and Loans” and you’ll find a one-stop-shop for applying through your province of residence.

The amounts you can receive depend on several factors including your province of residence, family income, if you have dependents, cost of your tuition and if you have a disability.

Due to the pandemic, another resource students can access this year is the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.

This should be explored for any students not currently receiving the CERB or EI. Again, there is easy to follow eligibility and application information available online but note that the final deadline for applications is Sept. 30. 

Another idea to explore is a part-time job during the school year. Bringing in some income can help ease the stress of finances during the year.

For some, it can also reduce the required borrowing amounts and leave a graduate with a much smaller debt load when they graduate.

While everyone’s situation is unique, the above tips can help set you up for the best chances of success this coming school year.

Reducing stress surrounding your finances can help you be more focused on your studies and lead to a more positive overall experience in your post-secondary education. 

Remember, while these pandemic times are no doubt a weird period for students because nothing like this has happened before, things will get better and this won’t last forever.

Focus on the things that you can control and get the most out of your advanced education experience.


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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and took over as board chairman in 2019. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations of the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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