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Financing Your Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education is expensive. In Canada, undergraduate students will pay an average of $4,724 in tuition fees for the 2008/09 academic year, up from $4,558 the year before. Many people cannot afford to pay the costs of going to school all at once and need help. Fortunately, financial aid is often available. The best sources of financial aid are scholarships, bursaries and other grants that do not have to be paid back. Look into them first. After that, check out government loans. They typically give you better terms and you'll pay a lot less interest on them than on conventional bank loans. But bank loans are also a possible option, especially with the low-interest programs available.

Assess Your Savings

Looking at all of your existing financial resources is a good first step in assessing your needs. Here are some ways you can help boost your savings to fund your post-secondary education:

1. Personal Savings

  • Summer Job income
  • Part-time Job income (during school year)
  • Key is to start today, put aside a regular monthly amount. The earlier you start, the less you have to put aside each month
  • If you started with $0 today and put aside $40 per month for two years, you will have saved almost $1,000

2. Family Support

  • Parents, grandparents and other relatives
  • Bonds, personal savings, education savings
  • Registered Education Savings Plans - RESP

3. Personal Investments

  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (commonly referred to as a GIC) an investment for a specific period of time, funds mature on a specific date (1 year, 2 year, etc.) with the return being the amount you invested plus interest — investment is guaranteed (you can't lose your investment)
  • Mutual Funds — no maturity date, purchase shares or units and redeem at market value — investment is not guaranteed (you can lose your investment)

4. Tax Refund

  • When you file your tax return, you may be entitled to a refund