The 4 questions below will help you determine the cost of your child’s post-secondary education, so you can avoid any surprises or shortfalls when it comes time to pay the bill:
1. Where and What Does Your Child Want to Study?
Unsurprisingly, a two-year diploma from the local college will be less costly than a professional degree abroad. How many years of post-secondary your child plans to complete and what schools they want to attend will have the biggest impact on the price of their education. You can retrieve the tuition and fee information for their desired program of study directly from the post-secondary education, and add up the costs for each year they attend. Remember, tuition typically rises by 2% to 5% each year, so don’t forget to factor this into your calculation.
- Helpful tip: Statistics Canada provides a breakdown of average tuition by province to help you with your estimates.
“How many years of post-secondary your child plans to complete and what schools they want to attend will have the biggest impact on the price of their education
2. Will Your Child Be Living at Home, in Student Residence, or Housing?
Often, the living expenses of students greatly outpace the cost of their tuition and books every year. As a result, living at home instead of living on campus can add up to a difference of over $45,000 over your child’s course of study. If your child will be living at home during school, their current living costs will likely remain very low.
However, if they will be living in student residence or renting a room near campus, you will need to factor things like rent, utilities, and food into the total cost of their education.
Remember, tuition typically rises by 2% to 5% each year, so don't forget to factor this into your calculation.
3. Does Your Child Have Any Scholarships, Personal Savings, or Income from a Part-time Job to Help Cover the Costs?
Don’t forget there are sources of funds other than RESPs or your own personal savings to help pay for your child’s post-secondary education. There are scholarships available to qualifying students for academics, sports, and volunteering, and grants for low-income or visible minority students. Additional government grants may be available that vary by province. Likewise, if your child will be contributing their own savings, or planning to work part-time while they attend school, this should all be factored into your calculations for the total cost.
4. What Portion of Their Education Were You Hoping to Cover?
While it’s very generous of parents to pay for their children’s entire post-secondary education, this isn’t always the best option for every family. It is important not to put your own finances at risk when you help out. Offering to pay for one or two years of study, or agreeing to pay their tuition but letting them pay for their living expenses, are options that can help make your contribution go further.
Helpful tip: Need more help figuring out the costs? Check out the Student Budget Calculator to help you estimate the cost of attending post-secondary!
Once you determine how much you can contribute, help your child find the financial aid they qualify for – like grants, bursaries, or student loans — to make up the difference. Remember to include your child in the conversation about what you will and will not be paying for, so they know what to expect.
Post-secondary education is a big financial undertaking, but a worthy investment in your child’s future. Knowing what the cost will be and help you pay for them will help you create a school budget works for your family.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.