Paying for College Without Breaking the Bank

  • By Jillian Taylor-Mancusi

It’s no secret that college is expensive. Canadian undergraduate students paid an average of $5,100 in tuition and fees for the 2010-2011 school year, and one survey from the Bank of Montreal found that the average student graduates with about $26,000 in student debt. But paying for college doesn’t have to break the bank or put you deep into debt.

If you have a student in college or one heading there soon, these tips can help take the sting out of paying for college:

Choose a school that’s close to home.

Tuition and books are not the only costly expenses you’ll need to worry about when sending your student off to college. Living expenses, including housing and transportation, also add up. According to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, the average cost of housing for an on-campus residence is $5,000 for a school year. One way to cut down on these expenses is to attend a school that allows your child to live at home while going to school.

Explore alternative school schedules.

Working while attending school is difficult on a traditional school schedule that meets during the day. Many colleges and universities offer programs and class schedules that help accomodate students who need to work during the day. Night classes and online programs allow them to work to pay for school and living expenses while still working towards a degree.

Apply for scholarships.

Scholarships aren’t just for people with straight A’s or talent in sports. There are hundreds of scholarships available that will help cover portions of tuition with various requirements. You can register with a free scholarship search program that allows you to search by major, school, and dollar amount. If your student is still in high school, you can also meet with a guidance counselor who will help you find available scholarships and apply for them.

If your child is already in college, they should check with faculty members and advisors to see what type of scholarships they offer for current students. Financial aid offices can also provide you with information about available scholarships.

Look for internships.

Internships and apprenticeships are excellent ways to earn college credit and can help pay for school at the same time. Many programs also offer paid internships.

There are a number of services that can help you find paying internships that also offer credit. The Public Service Commission’s Post-secondary Co-op and Internship program, for example, helps students find internships within the public service arena.

Paying for college without taking out loans is possible with a little planning. If you have tips for covering the cost of school and expenses without going into debt, share them below!

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