Books and Bills: Financing your Post-Secondary Studies
An education is a worthwhile investment—but if you’re making the decision to go to college or university, you may find yourself questioning the amount of money going into your studies. Tuition fees can pile up, and can range anywhere from five to eight thousand dollars per year. Specific programs, like business or engineering, are even more expensive at many institutions. When examining the costs of it all, post-secondary education seems more and more daunting, but (though it might take a little work) there are ways to get the learning you’re entitled to without breaking the bank.
When you’re looking at a post-secondary program, finances should be one of your points of consideration. Depending on the university or college, tuition rates can vary, and if you know your program is offered in equal quality at a cheaper school, this could be a logical deciding factor. The thing is, post-secondary finances are comprised of much more than tuition payments: in all programs there are auxiliary costs, like textbooks, that you have to consider. Furthermore, there is the issue of residence; you may choose to live at home in order to save some money, since residence can cost you up to ten thousand dollars every year. But if you’re looking at an institution that’s a little further from home, living expenses are mandatory costs as well.
Overall, going to college or university can be a financial ordeal if you don’t have the funding. That being said, don’t feel you have to miss out on educational opportunities due to financial problems. Scholarships that are awarded based on academic merit are often included upon your admittance to a post-secondary program, provided you fall into a certain grade category (typically, very large schools tend to have more stringent academic requirements for entrance scholarships). There are also scholarships you can apply for, whether based on grades, extra-curriculars, or community involvement, and these scholarships can be offered by the school itself or available through external sources. You just have to do your research.
Financial assistance can be available to you even if you don’t qualify for scholarships—bursaries, which are based solely on financial need, are also offered by many universities. These require an application, but are definitely a worthwhile investment. Bursaries are grants, not loans, so they don’t need to be paid back! If scholarships and bursaries don’t work out, consider applying for a student loan (basically, borrowing money from the government). Programs like OSAP in Ontario are in place specifically to help people get through school, even if they don’t have the funding for it. They also allow some time after you graduate to get yourself organized until you are able to pay the money back.
Post-secondary can be a financial burden, but don’t let yourself miss out on the opportunity to get an education. With scholarships, bursaries and loans in place, there are always ways to get the help you need.