11 Ways to Save on Post-secondary Education

  • Rent a book or buy used. Talk to students in your program that have taken the classes you want to take and buy the books from them. Or buy the books for cheap at online stores like Amazon or AbeBooks.com


  • Sell your books when your done the semester. Post an ad on campus, sell them to the bookstore or to a friend. You may end up getting pennies on the dollar for what you spent but it’s better to get something for nothing.
  • If you have the grades, become a Teaching Assistant or tutor in your school during the year.  They pay well above minimum wage, you get to refresh the material you already learned by teaching others & you get paid to do it. Of course if you have an internship during the school year that is even better.
  • Apply for scholarships, bursaries and grants in your school. Visit your schools financial aid’s office and also check out helpful sites like Scholarship Canada  for scholarships being offered that you may qualify for.


  • Live close to school and/or take the transit. Owning a car while in school does not make financial sense unless you have a good job that allows you to manage the expenses that come with it, or you won’t get into debt doing it.
  • If you are university bound and your program allows you to take the first two years in college and transfer the credits over to finish the last 2 years in university, take this option as it will cost a lot less. College tuition is about half the cost of university. Certain programs like accounting, nursing and engineering allow this in many schools.
  • Rent a room or share an apartment with at least 2 other roommates (preferably one’s you know). Some students opt to rent their own place for the added freedom, many of them incurring debt or using student loans to do so.  Although the freedom and privacy will be nice, the debt that follows won’t.
  • Live off campus, but not too far away from school. On-campus residential living may allow you to connect with a lot more friends, but it’s expensive and should not be a reason to graduate with debt. Also, off campus living reduces distractions while still living close to campus and significantly reduces the cost of accommodation and food.
  • Learn how to cook & do laundry. You don’t have to be a chef, just know how to make a few dishes so you can alternate your meals and save some money. When you do eat out (cause let’s face it its fun to do that with your friends from time to time), go during “cheap” night like cheap wing or pizza night.
  • If you want to go to school out of province, choose wisely. Tuition fees between provinces can differ vastly. If your completing your undergrad in Canada, the schools are generally standardized. In my experience it is graduate studies that matter where you attend. Here is an overview from Statistics Canada of the average tuition in different provinces in Canada (this does not cover living costs) for 2015-2016.

statistics Canada

  • Plan an academic schedule to graduate in 4 years. I graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce in Accounting, but I didn’t switch programs until the end of my second year from a biology major, to a business major. Although some of my credits transferred over as electives, I lost about a 6 months to a year of time and money. I don’t regret it though, because I love business and I love working with numbers. The one year wasted was worth it. However, if you know exactly what it is you want to study and you have a passion for it, plan to finish on time. I read a stat that said “less than 40% of college/university students finish a 4-year degree in 4 years”.

I really enjoyed my post-secondary years and not all the debt I incurred was spent wasting money. However, I think I could have done a better job as well. In hindsight, I which I had looked into resources like these while in school. Paying it forward now though. Hope this helps.













Categories: Debt, Savings

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2 replies

  1. Naturally Ontario is the most expensive. Practical and useful tips 🙂