Are you planning to go to college or university? Better start saving now because the average cost of tuition in Canada ranges from $2,500 to $8,000 per year and is increasing annually. Going to school is expensive, but before you rush out and get a student loan, here are some things to consider.
It pays to do your homework
The more scholarships you win, the less money you’ll have to borrow, so embrace your inner nerd. But remember, not all awards are based on academics alone. Many include community involvement, athletic performance, career aspirations and other factors in their criteria. In some cases, your parents’ ethnic heritage or professional affiliation may also be considered.
So even if you’re not Einstein, be thorough when it comes to seeking out financial aid:
- Seek out awards that may be available through service clubs, churches and even your parents’ employers.
- Visit your high school’s guidance counsellor or the student aid office at the university or college you’d like to attend and ask about the awards, scholarship and bursaries available to you.
- Browse helpful websites such as www.scholarshipscanada.com and www.studentawards.com.
- Ask your credit union.
The Bank of Mom and Dad
When it comes to borrowing money, the interest rate makes a huge difference. So even if you qualify for a government loan, you may want to approach your parents or other close relatives first. If you can borrow money at a lower rate of interest (or better yet, interest-free), you’ll save money in the end.
Your parents don’t necessarily need to have a giant chequing account in order to help you. If they have a good credit rating and are willing to guarantee your loan, for instance, they can still help you save money in interest by co-signing with you. Likewise, they may be willing to borrow the funds against something like a secured line of credit or home equity loan and let you repay them directly.
Planning to repay
No matter where you ultimately borrow from—whether it’s family, the credit union or the government—you need to think carefully before you sign on the dotted line. Borrow only what you need and give serious consideration to how much you can reasonably afford to repay by when.
For government loans, there is no interest charged while you are studying and a six-month grace period that applies if you stop. That’s fine if you graduate and get a job in your field right away, but if you have trouble finding employment or decide to take a break and go backpack through Europe midway through your studies, your loan payments will still have to be made.
For a helpful student loan repayment calculator and other student loan resources, visit the Government of Canada Student Financial Assistance page. Or visit one of our branches, where our knowledgeable and friendly staff members would be happy to speak with you about your options.
Contact us. We can help you get started with an education plan that works for you.