Financing Your Future
By Erin Rebello
What are your plans after highschool? Some people want to get straight to the workforce and get a job to sustain themselves; others want to explore the free trades and search for paid internships; yet others want to take a gap year. There are also many people who choose to go to college or university to further their education. Getting a degree improves your skills and makes you a more desirable worker, so it really is an investment into your future. However, in this day and age, with the cost of attending college rising rapidly, it can be very expensive to obtain an education. As a result, it’s important to start thinking about how you plan to pay for a higher education. Below are a few questions you should ask yourself when thinking about going back to school:
- Will this degree help me in the future? Getting an education is expensive, so you want to make sure that your investment is making a difference. When choosing between the degrees you hope to obtain, let your interest guide you, but also be prudent of how it will impact you financially. If it’s going to help you obtain a higher pay rate once you enter the workforce, then it’s a good idea to work towards it. However, if the industry that you are getting a degree in has a low demand, you might want to reconsider your choices.
- How much will this degree cost? This is one of the first and most important questions you need to ask yourself. Some schools have significantly higher tuition rates than others, which can make or break your ability to pay. Another thing you should do is make sure to factor in the costs of meals, books, and additional items. If you plan to live on campus, you should also know that this can raise the total cost of obtaining your degree by thousands of dollars. Although picking a good school matters, it’s important to realize that sometimes the school closer to home is better for your current and future financial stability.
- Have my parents saved for my university expenses? After you calculate how much school will cost, the next thing you should do is look into how you plan on paying for it. Sometimes, parents will save for their children’s education through a government supported account known as an RESP, which stands for registered education savings plan. A lot of the time you may not even know that your parents are saving for this, so it’s always good to check it with them. Although an RESP can help with education, most of the time it will only cover a portion, especially if you plan to pursue a Master’s degree or are attending an expensive university.
- Should I get a job? Consider the fact that RESPs probably won’t cover all your tuition costs, it’s a good idea to set aside your own savings. If you have time after school and think that you could balance work and high school, then a part-time job might just be for you. There are a variety of jobs from anything from working in retail, to fast food, to secretarial positions, and more. If you think that working part-time during the school year is too much, consider applying for summer positions at camps, parks, museums, and more!
- Am I eligible for financial aid? Besides getting a job and receiving RESP money from your parents, there are many other ways to get the financial assistance that you require for university. For one, you should consider applying for assistance through your university. The amount of financial aid you receive from a university depends on many things, including grades, awards, community service, essays, and financial need. You should also apply for scholarships, which are issued by various organizations in your city, province, or even across the whole of Canada. Many smaller scholarships are really easy to win if there are few to no applicants, so remember to apply, apply, apply!
- How can OSAP help me? OSAP, also known as the Ontario student assistance program is a government funded initiative to help students in Ontario pay for their post-secondary education. OSAP issues loans and grants to students who need assistance. What’s the difference? You have to pay loans back, but you don’t have to pay grants back. Be sure to check the government website for more details about OSAP and how to apply!
Although this certainly isn’t a complete list of all the questions you should be asking, hopefully these questions give you an idea to consider when making financial choices about your future. By making educated cho