This is an article from Sean Cooper, Pension Analyst, RESP administrator and Income Tax Preparer.
Saving for university is difficult, especially in Ontario, which has the highest tuition fees in Canada. In 2010, undergrads in Ontario paid average tuition fees of $6,307, a 5.4 per cent increase from 2009. When I started university I had no savings and I didn’t have a part-time job. So how did I manage to graduate debt-free? Here’s how I did it, and how you can too.
Working two part-time jobs is a great way for students to earn income. By working 25 hours a week you can earn $300, which will help pay for next semester’s tuition. While going to university I worked on campus – the pay was great, the hours were flexible, and it was a great opportunity to network. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, so be sure to take advantage of that, too.
The bulk of my income came from working full-time during summer. By working 50 hours a week, I was able to earn $10,000, enough to cover next year’s tuition fees. Be sure to attend career fairs and apply for internships. Internships are great because they pay better than part-time work and can potentially lead to a full-time job.
Buying Used Textbooks
You can save 50% off retail prices by buying your books second-hand; I saved $300 a semester. My university, Ryerson, had a used book store where students could buy and sell textbooks. Be sure to sell your textbooks at the end of the semester; that way, depending on how much you sell them for, the textbooks may not cost you a dime in the end.
If you have strong grades, tutoring is a great opportunity to get paid to share knowledge with fellow students. Most universities hire tutors for difficult subjects like finance and accounting or have a tutoring service where you can set your own hourly rate and schedule.
Eliminating Wasteful Spending
Being debt-free requires discipline. Two of the biggest expenses for students are food and transportation. While some students can spend $100 a week on fast food and coffee, I brown-bagged my lunch and saved a bundle – I estimate I saved $5,200 a year. Transportation is another way you can save. Instead of buying a transit pass or driving, why not bicycle or walk? Besides getting exercise, you can save over $1,000 a year.
Bursaries and Scholarships
Don’t be shy to apply for scholarships or bursaries –they are a great way to help with the steep cost of education. While scholarships are only awarded to a select few, bursaries are great because they are awarded based on financial situation, not just academic performance. I applied for bursaries and received $500 each year.
Through hard work and careful spending, I was able to graduate with money in the bank; meanwhile, some of friends will be paying off their student loans at least for the next five years. Graduating debt-free is a rewarding experience, and now I can concentrate on buying my first house and planning the rest of my life.
About the Author: Sean Cooper is a single, 20-something year old, first time home buyer located in Toronto. He has experience in the financial sector as a Pension Analyst, RESP administrator and Income Tax Preparer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in business management from Ryerson University.