College Costs

How much will university cost?

It’s nearly back to school season, and prospective students are ready to head back to school. For university students, back to school season also means their wallet (or more accurately, their parents’ wallet) is about to get considerably lighter. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to post-secondary education, cost is a major factor in determining availability. Naturally, a lot of parents start saving for their child’s secondary education the same year that they’re born. In addition, the student may possibly work part time during school, and maybe even full time during the summer. In addition to that, the student could also apply for bursaries and scholarships from various sources, in addition to taking on student loans from the government. 

But is it enough? How much should parents be saving every month? How much will it cost to go to university anyways? Let’s take a look at the cost of education in Canada in the present, and also the predicted increases in the upcoming years. 

The rising cost of post-secondary education

If you look at the cost of tuition itself in Canada, it looks fairly reasonable. According to an article by Top Universities, the average tuition fee in Canada for an undergraduate degree is $6,571 per year. That doesn’t seem to bad, right? Except the problem is this is solely the tuition. It doesn’t consider the textbooks, living expenses, travel expenses, and if you’re staying on campus, the cost of rent. For that, we can turn to another article by Knowledge First Financial, a provider of RESPs. 

In this article, we are provided with the total cost of education with and without residence:

College Costs Table

The numbers are quite alarming. Even for students starting university this year, the cost is $43,815 for a 4 year degree.  If you are the parent of a child born just this year in 2018, you can see that the cost of tuition, not even including residence, can add up to $66,425 over the course of a 4 year degree. If we do some simple math, over 18 years, a new parent should save roughly $300 a month, in order to cover the full cost of university expenses, minus residence.

Much higher costs for studying internationally

For those with high-achieving children who are aiming to attend Ivy League schools, or other top universities around the world, the costs can be astronomical. Here is a site comparing the costs of various ivy league schools. 

We can see that the average cost of tuition for these schools is $51,486. That’s in US dollars, mind you. Also, that’s 1 year. Not 4 years. Multiplied by 4, that means the cost for just tuition is $205,944 USD. Add on another $15,000 USD in living costs a year (which is a mild estimate), you’re looking at a total cost of $265,944 USD for a 4 year education program. This means that the parent will need to save roughly ~1200 a month, every month for 18 years until their child turns 18 to cover those costs. 

A house to live in, or an Ivy League education? You decide! Suddenly, a 4 year degree here in Canada, including residence, for $83,195 CAD doesn’t seem all that expensive anymore does it? 

Luckily, we do receive some help from the government. As a parent, you can help your child by opening up a registered education savings plan, or RESP. When you contribute to it, the government will also contribute to the plan. As a student, you can apply for a loan through federal government of Canada, which will sometimes include a grant. Additionally, there are many scholarships available for students, provided you have good academic achievement. The key is to always do your research so you have everything to support your or your child’s success!