In Canada, like in other countries, education after high school can be expensive and many students come out with a large amount of unwanted debt when they graduate. While scholarships, grants, and student loans are often the most common ways to off-set the financial burden of paying for post-secondary education, there are some alternative means to consider.
To help offset the cost of higher education, here are some financially savvy strategies to help mitigate student debt.
Choose the right school
The cost of university can vary depending on the institution. Choosing a university that fits your budget can save you money in the long run. It can be a wise decision to earn credit at a less expensive school like a community college first, and then transfer to a university later on.
Apply for an RESP
A Registered Education Savings Plan or RESP is a savings plan that allows parents, grandparents, friends and other relatives to save for a child’s post-secondary education. An RESP can be started as soon as a child is born through providers like Children’s Education Funds, Inc. (CEFI). CEFI has three different RESPs to choose from, each with its own features and benefits.
One of the main advantages of an RESP is the access they provide to the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). Under the CESG, the government matches 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually to an RESP, to a maximum of $500 per beneficiary per year. The lifetime maximum per beneficiary is $7,200.
Minimize living expenses
Students have options when it comes to funding their day-to-day lives. Money-saving alternatives can be applied to decisions like choosing to live on or off campus, meal plans, textbooks and transportation. When it comes to the bottom line, a little planning goes a long way.
Secure a side job
If your school schedule permits, taking a job and earning money while studying can help students pay for the cost associated with tuition. The more money a student earns, the less money that student needs to borrow. An added benefit – students who try to find work related to their intended career field will build connections that could potentially lead to better job opportunities after graduation.
Don’t miss deadlines
The deadlines that universities establish for submission of financial aid forms are very important to consider and remember. If you’ve missed the date to apply for a grant or scholarship, you might still get financial aid, but it will probably be given to you in the form of a loan, which of course, bears interest and has to be repaid.
With tuition costs on the rise, today’s graduates are more likely to finish post-secondary school burdened with debt. Keeping proactive and planning for the future is the best way a student can minimize the amount of money they will have to pay back after graduation.