UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

The cost of an education

Students heading off to the ivory tower first have to deal with a couple of real-world issues: how much will an education cost? And how am I going to pay for it?

SANDY FARRAN November 24 2008
UNIVERSITY RANKINGS

The cost of an education

Students heading off to the ivory tower first have to deal with a couple of real-world issues: how much will an education cost? And how am I going to pay for it?

SANDY FARRAN November 24 2008

The cost of an education

Students heading off to the ivory tower first have to deal with a couple of real-world issues: how much will an education cost? And how am I going to pay for it?

SANDY FARRAN

BEFORE YOU GO Before you even set foot on cam pus, get your wallet ready. Universities charge between $60 and $100 to process your application. It's a little cheaper in Ontario where applications are processed through the Universities' Application Centre; you can apply to up to three universities for $105, with each addi tional application costing $35. Visits to distant campuses can also put a dent in the bank account. To offset travel cost, some universities offer financial incentives, such as free meals or overnight accommodation. Acadia University in Nova Scotia will go so far as to cover transportation costs for a campus visit, even for applicants flying in from the West Coast. But you'd better enjoy the tour: the only way to get reimbursed is to enrol.

HOW STUDENTS SPEND The average full-time • •J~~ ..J. L. l £. O(~(~

per cent of students given a government loan or bursary received an average of $7,813. A small number of studentsthree per cent-reported income from co-op placements. But you can see why co-op is a sought-after study option: along with valuable on-the-job experience, students with co-op income reported average earnings of $7,411. DEBT Forty-nine per cent of undergrads have loans from various sources. The average student with debts owes about $18,900, with the largest shares owed to government student loans (average $16,800), financial institutions (average $11,700) and family (average $9,400). The average debt load more than doubles over the course of study. A first-year student with debt owes an aver age of $10,122; by fourth or fifth year that has climbed to $26,288.

INTEREST You don't have to start paying back government student loans until at least six months after graduation. If you borrow $25,000 and it takes 10 years (the standard amortization period) to repay, and if we assume that the interest rate is 6.75 per cent-the prime rate plus 2.5 per cent-you'll end up paying $34,447, or nearly $10,000 in interest. EMPLOYMENT Nearly half of all undergrads worked during the 2007-2008 academic year. Most worked part-time, with 38 per cent working 10 to 20 hours per week, and 37 per cent working 10 hours or fewer. Students in fourth or fifth year are more likely to work (58 per cent) than first-year students

per year. i nere d1~, nowever, WVJflCIdI uui icrerices in tuition, and substantial regional variation in hous ing costs and job opportunities. Students in Alberta and Nova Scotia foot the highest bills. Average monthly expenditure for students in Nova Scotia is $1 ,806 per month, with the largest part going to tuition ($867) and accommodation and food ($612). The average Albertan student's total costs are almost as high, but the money goes to different things: tuition is nearly one-third lower than in Nova Scotia, but food and accommodation are 16 per cent more expensive. The lowest monthly costs are in Quebec ($1,053) and Manitoba ($1,293). Both have low tuition and a low cost of living. TUITION Undergraduate tuition in Canada averaged $4,724 for the 2007-2008 academic year. Nova Scotia has the highest average tuition, at $5,932. Quebec's tuition, despite the lifting of a decade-long freeze, was the lowest at $2,167. Students in dentistry paid the most, averaging $12,906, followed by medicine at $10,392 and law at $7,720. On top of tuition, there are a bundle of compulsory fees that differ from school to school, but which usually include charges for such things as recreation and athletics, student health services, student associations, and so on. On aver age, Canadian students pay $695 a year in compulsory fees-ranging from $827 in Nova Scotia to $423 in New Brunswick. LIVING EXPENSES In addition to provincial and regional differences, the cost of housing depends in part on whether a student lives on or off campus, alone or with roommates, or at home with parents. One-quarter of fulland part-time university undergraduates live at home; it's the least expensive option. Thirty-seven per cent of students live off-cam pus in rented accommodations. Another 18 per cent are in an oncampus residence. How much does it cost to live in residence? The University of Manitoba, Concordia, Laurentian and Leth bridge have single rooms with meals for as little as $5,500; the same option at the University of Toronto or McGill can run more than $10,000. For students living off-campus, sharing a two-bedroom apartment during the academic year will cost the most in Calgary (average cost: $4,356), followed closely by Vancouver ($4,336) and Toronto ($4,244). St. John's is the least expen sive, at $2,456. WHERE THE MONEY COMES FROM Most Canadian university students turn to at least three sources to pay for their education. Nearly half of all stu dents relied on family, from whom they received an average of $6,771 in the 2007-2008 academic year. Forty-two per cent had earnings from summer work, worth an average of $3,987. One-third received scholarships or bursaries. Average amount: $2,971. And the 31

me ages OT i o ana L4 earnea an average oi `/ ou an hour in the 2004-2005 academic year. Alberta had the most full-time students employed dur ing the school year (44.3 per cent) compared to only 23 per cent in Newfoundland and Lab rador. Slightly more than half of full-time female students worked, compared to 41 per cent of male students. Education students were the most likely to report working while in school, with 62 per cent employed. Engineering students were the least likely to be employed; only 29 per cent had a part-time job. CREDIT CARDS Sixty-five per cent of undergrads have at least one credit card, including six per cent who say that they have three or more cards. Most students with cards pay them off in full each month. But one in five don't, carrying an average outstanding bal ance of $3,000. The longer students stay in university, the more credit cards proliferate: just 45 per cent of first-years have plas tic, compared to 78 per cent in fourth or fifth year. EDUCATION TAX CREDITS Canadian governments pro vide nearly $2 billion a year in education tax credits, available to students who file an income tax return. Among the goodies: a 17 per cent tax credit on the interest paid on your student loans; an education claim of $400 per month for full-time studies; a non-refundable textbook tax credit of $65 for each month enrolled; a full tax credit for all post-secondary scholarships and bursaries; and tax-free withdrawals from a registered retire ment savings plan. In addition, you may be able to deduct from your taxes such things as moving expenses, monthly public transit passes, and some ancillary fees such as athletic and health services fees. Students studying in provinces with high tuition, such as Nova Scotia, receive the greatest tax savings ($2,253); Quebec students pay the lowest tuition and receive the smallest tax savings ($1,245). Students are required to claim tuition, education and textbook amounts on their own return first-even if mom and dad paid the fees. The unused portion may be transferred to a spouse or parent or carried forward. In 2005, New Brunswick introduced tax rebates worth up to $10,000 for students who work in New Brunswick after graduation. Mani toba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have since introduced simi lar measures, while in British Columbia, tax incentives are available for those going into specific fields. SOURCES: Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium (CUSC), Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Statistics Canada, Canadian Post-Secondary Student Financial Survey 2003-2004, Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (2005), Canadian Association of Uni versity Teachers (CAUT), Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Government of Canada Looking for money for school? ___________________________ Search our scholarships database. Go to macleans.ca/oncampus and click on "Scholarship Finder." macleans ca/oncampus