Having a good idea of how much your post-secondary education will cost will help you prepare financially.
Use our Student Budget Calculator and the information below to help you put together a realistic estimate.
Once you have put a realistic budget together, the next step is thinking about where the money to cover the expenses will come from. See sources of money for your post-secondary education for more information.
Your costs will generally fall within three major categories:
Tuition fees depend on the program you choose, the school you plan to attend and the province or territory where you will study. However, in 2011/2012, the average cost of a year's tuition at a Canadian university was $5,3661 and the average cost of a year's tuition at a Canadian college was $2,6002.
If you already know what program you want to study, visit the websites of the universities or colleges that offer it to find out current tuition costs. If not, look at tuition costs for a few different programs to make a reasonable estimate.
Tuition costs may impact what you decide to study, and where, but once you have made that decision, the fees will become a fixed cost in your budget.
If you know someone who is in the program you want to study, ask them for an estimate to help you get a good idea of the costs for books and other course materials, or check with a school that offers the program.
If you can't get any information, use a ballpark estimate. For many undergraduate university programs, $800 to $1,000 per year is a reasonable range for planning ahead. For college programs, costs are often a little lower. However, keep in mind that costs can vary a lot, depending on the program you choose to study.
Even though certain resources are required for your program, you may still be able to reduce your costs if you:
You have more control over how much you spend in this category, and the choices you make can have a big impact on where you are at financially when you finish your studies.
The biggest factor that will affect your living expenses is whether or not you can continue living at home with your family. If that is a realistic option for you, it can cut your living expenses by thousands of dollars a year.
If you plan on living in residence, check residence and meal plan costs on the website of the university or college that you hope to attend. Some schools' websites also provide estimated costs for living off-campus. Remember that there will likely be a small increase in the cost of living each year.
Whatever your living arrangements, there will be some other costs to consider, such as transportation, clothing, computers, cell phones, and entertainment. Look for ways to save by focusing on your “needs” and cutting down or your “wants”, or non-essential expenses.