A budget is a plan that helps you manage your money. It helps you determine how much money you receive and spend during your studies.
You must include all student living costs while in Canada. So here is the list of most common expenses you will have to pay for while studying in Canada:
On average, an undergraduate student at a Canadian university has to pay around $6,500 in tuition fees in a academic year. Tuition fees are what you pay to your university or college to enroll in a program and take courses.
Tuition fees may vary depending on:
- Study program
- Institution attended
- Province or territory where your post-secondary institution is located
- Your residency or citizenship status
- Number of courses
- Type of course
- Whether you are a full-time or part-time student
Other Education Expenses
In addition to tuition fees, student has to pay other types of fees such as student association and administrative fees. This fee varies for each institution.
As a general rule, private health insurance is included in tuition fees. This insurance covers medical or dental expenses that are not included in your provincial or territorial health insurance.
If you already have private health insurance, either as part of your employment or through your family, you may waive coverage from your institution. Check with your institution to find out if you qualify. Most post-secondary institutions require that you waive insurance during the first few weeks of the school year. You may have to prove that you have private health insurance from another source.
Books and other course materials
The cost of books and course materials varies by program and post-secondary institution. Between $800 and $1000 per year is a reasonable estimate for an undergraduate student. For a more accurate estimate, ask your post-secondary institution or someone already enrolled in your program.
To reduce the cost of books and course materials, you can:
- Buy used books
- Buy books from online retailers that offer better prices than campus bookstores
- Obtain an electronic version of course materials, such as books and articles
- Share books with roommates or classmates, so convenient
- Ask the post-secondary institution’s bookstore if you can borrow materials.
- Sell your books
- Use a previous version of the book, if possible
The amount you spend on living expenses has a significant impact on your financial situation at the end of your studies.
Living On Campus
If you plan to live on campus, check your college or university website for the cost of student residences and meal plans. Consider sharing a residence since a shared residence costs less than an individual residence.
You may choose to live off campus instead of residence. It means living with roommates, alone or with your family. Living with your family while you study can save thousands of dollars each year.
The websites of some post-secondary institutions include estimates of off-campus living expenses while in school. Off-campus living expenses vary depending on where you are studying. For example, rent in a small town can be much cheaper than in downtown Toronto.
Don’t forget to take into account the tenant’s heating, electricity, internet and insurance costs. Living with a roommate is always a good way to reduce these costs.
Meal costs in your budget while you live off campus
Be sure to include the cost of meals in your budget. Some grocery stores offer student discounts on certain days of the week. Ask for student discounts when you shop.
Many post-secondary institutions offer meal plans for students living off campus. Contact your post-secondary institution for more information on these meal plans.
Transport + Gasoline
While in Canada you will definitely use public transport at some point. If you must use public transit to get to the post-secondary institution, ask about the cost of a transit pass. Some post-secondary institutions provide passes to students whose fees are included in their tuition fees.
If you have a car, check your post-secondary institution’s website to find out how much parking costs. You must also consider the price of gasoline. In either case, public transportation is always going to be cheaper than taking your car to school every day.
If you do not live with your parents, be sure to include the cost of going home for a visit or for the summer. Most airlines, bus and passenger train companies offer discounts to students.
You can take advantage of many of these discounts with your international student ID card.
Entertainment, clothing and mobile phone costs are examples of other costs that you should consider. To reduce these costs, focus on what you need rather than what you want.
You can save on these costs by using student discount cards.
Take into account rising costs
Your tuition and living expenses may increase each year because of inflation. Inflation is the rising cost of consumer goods and services. In recent years, the average inflation rate in Canada has been 2% per year. Average tuition fees for an undergraduate student at a Canadian university were 2.8% higher in the 2016-2017 academic year than in the previous year.
Remember to include inflation when budgeting for your student life. You may want to consider making a new budget for each year you are in school.
Sources of Income for Students in Canada
When making your budget for student life, think about the source of your money. You can earn income from personal savings or work during your study years.
To increase your income, you can also think of:
- Study grants
- Get a student loan from the government
- Obtain a line of credit from your financial institution
Student Credit Card
You can find and compare offers for credit card companies on your college or university campus or online. The average annual interest rate for student credit cards in Canada is 18.11%.
Be careful: Credit cards are a very expensive way to borrow money if you can’t pay off the balance every month.
Tax deductions and tax credits for students
There are many tax credits and deductions available to students. Your eligibility for these varies depending on your status as a part-time or full-time student. Be sure to report your income each year on time to avoid penalties.
A tax deduction reduces your taxable income for the year. For example, as a student, you may be entitled to tax deductions for moving and child care expenses, as well as other tax deductions.
A non-refundable tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe. You may be entitled to a non-refundable tax credit for:
- Tuition fees
- Public transportation
- Interest on your student loans
- Taking advantage of these tax credits and deductions has a big impact on your annual income tax return.