Rising cost of living causes some high school graduates to abandon their dream colleges

Financial Planners


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Building of the University of British Columbia School of Pharmacy.

Conor Sullivan turned to the Conservation Biology program at the University of British Columbia in 11th grade. However, when he calculated, he soon found that his dream did not match at all.

“The cost of living was ridiculous. Without a full scholarship, I would probably lose more than $100,000,” said Sullivan, who lived in Greater Toronto. Area when we started applying to secondary schools in 2019.

The rising cost of living has left students like Sullivan in even more debt, straining their budgets and often abandoning their dream schools altogether. In Sullivan’s case, the question was, “Will I be in a lot of debt if I go public with this?” Is the degree actually worth it? Or is it actually better in the long run to get a less valuable degree just to work in the workforce? “

Sullivan’s parents were not in a position to support him financially, but his high income prevented him from accessing the Ontario Student Assistance Program. “I was in a real gray area,” says Sullivan, but he turned down his second choice, the University of Guelph, because of high rent and tuition.

Instead, he chose an intercollegiate bridging program in conservation biology at Fleming University in Peterborough, Ontario, which he was able to start online from the comfort of his own home.

Stress Test Podcast: How Rising Rent Is Changing Student Life

Sullivan took a gap year to save money before attending Trent University in Peterborough. He worked as a ski instructor and bike mechanic, earning an average of $32 an hour, and in advance of the start of school in the fall of 2022 in Toronto.

Sullivan, who currently splits a four-bedroom house in Peterborough and spends $650 a month and pays about $7,800 a year in tuition in Trent, Guelph, said in April 2023: Mr. Sullivan would have faced an average rent of $2,405. Figures from the website Rentals.ca. Rent was supposed to rise to $2,787 in Vancouver, according to a May report from Rentals.ca, but a UBC spokeswoman said housing costs are below market rents.

Students are the hardest hit by rising costs of living, rent and food prices as the Bank of Canada raises interest rates from 0.25% to 4.5% from March 2022 onwards, with higher education institutions seeing more student access. ing. A campus food bank, according to a Canadian Students Federation report.

“Everyone will say, why should we necessarily care about our students when we suffer as much? McInnis says. “That’s true, but this is generational. I’m no longer a student, so I can more easily get past the cost of things, but if you’re a student, it’s been decades.” It will affect you.”

Katia Bivic of Oakville, Ontario, surprised herself by choosing nearby Guelph instead of UBC or the University of Ottawa, which had previously been her top choices. “When it came to top-of-mind options, given the cost, we had to make sure it was somewhere close to home,” says Bibic, who just finished her first year of neuroscience in Guelph.

A combination of savings from a summer job, student loans, and help from his parents allowed Bibik to live in a dormitory throughout his first year, enjoy a traditional university life, and return home in early spring. .

Living with parents is clearly an important way to cut costs, and students in Vancouver and Toronto can save about $22,000 for an academic year, and about $9,300 in cities like Edmonton (eight months using rent (based on rentals from Rentals.ca).

Some are trying to cut costs by prioritizing programs with job opportunities that can supplement the cost of living. Wanting to minimize debt, 12th grader Anish Neetiganesh applies to top universities, the University of Ottawa and Waterloo, even though his parents will cover about 50 percent of the cost. I looked for an opportunity in a co-op program. .

“For both schools, the co-op is a very good thing. It helps pay back the tuition fees to a large extent, perhaps 50% or more,” said Niesiganesh, who applied for Waterloo’s prestigious engineering management program. To tell. , but lately I’ve found myself leaning toward computer science in Ottawa. “Waterloo prices are pretty high.”

While Nisiganesh is drawn to Waterloo’s position in the job market, Ottawa’s more affordable and more flexible housing options are pushing him in the other direction. “Ottawa was a wild card for me.

However, considering the cost of living and housing options, Ottawa had an advantage. “It seems to have better amenities at a more reasonable price. In Waterloo you will pay more for slightly less space and less flexibility. There are a lot of new things coming out,” says Nisiganesh.

Mr. Sullivan’s program brought me closer to home, but I also chose a program that offered opportunities for collaboration. But while choosing Trent helped alleviate the daunting cost of living in Vancouver, living on campus cuts the cost of living by as much as $8,900 for the 2022-23 academic year, while interest rates The rise has made life in Peterborough generally less affordable.

“I work a full-time schedule to cover my tuition. In Peterborough, rents have increased significantly, and food costs have skyrocketed,” Sullivan said. Of his monthly budget, $200 is for gas and a car, $150 is for groceries, $650 is for off-campus rent after the spring semester, and $20 an hour at an auto mechanic shop. I spend my time earning money.

For students who want to make their dream school a reality, regardless of price, financial planners recommend doing due diligence and understanding the different types of debt long before applying to college. “Yes, there are student loans and scholarships, but when you try to get a personal loan, it can be a little bit more difficult,” says Desjardins financial planner Angela Hiermieri.

If debt awaits after graduation, as about 50% of Canadians do, Yermieri will spend 50-20-30 to balance post-graduation expenses, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. I recommend using rules. “Fifty percent of your income should be for basic expenses like rent, hydroelectricity and telephones. It’s all about leisure,” she says.

With rising rents, living with roommates could cost upwards of $1,000 per person

However, choosing a school in an expensive city requires students to sacrifice more than their debt. “I have multiple jobs at any point during the semester. I work 20 hours a week and it’s really a burden,” he said after refusing to attend his local school, the University of Alberta, before moving from Edmonton to the University of Toronto. says Jasmine Chong, who moved to the prestigious life sciences program.

With parents who can provide limited support, Chong pays most of her tuition, rent and other expenses with the help of an Alberta student grant. Her grant was about $20,000, just enough to cover her first year’s expenses.

“I haven’t seen many friends during the semester. Entrance to a shared apartment. He plans to pay $1,600 a month for a one-bedroom unit on the first floor of his Midtown Toronto residence when he moves out at the end of the summer.

Despite the sacrifices and graduating with a “heavy” debt, Chung has no regrets about her decision. “I would probably choose it again. There are so many great opportunities here and so many doors open to graduate school,” she said, hoping to join the University of T’s graduate life sciences research program. says Jeong.

Still, for many students, name recognition and program rankings are more important than affordability. “Ultimately, I think it was the right decision,” Sullivan says of choosing Trent. “Maybe you wonder what life would have been like if I had done that.” [chosen] Other schools might have had a flashier piece of paper at the end of the book that might have opened more doors, but you won’t know until you go to college and spend that $80,000 to $90,000. “



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