Preparing For The Costs Of University

By Nest Wealth on 13/09/2018Article 3 Minute Read

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Perhaps this is your first time sending your kid off to university for their very first year of undergrad, or maybe this is your second or third time around. If one thing remains true across all of these examples, it’s that post-secondary education is expensive. Here’s your guide to prepare for some of the hidden costs of university.

For many Canadian students and families, the climbing costs of university isn’t surprising. And the fact is, university and college education is one of the biggest expenses students and families incur in their lifetime. Although you’ve been prepping for this very moment since the day your child was born (time to seek out that RESP fund!), it’s one of those things you don’t fully grasp until you’re waving goodbye to your kid at the doorstep of what will now be their new home (…their dorm!). Or, like many families, if your child chooses to commute, that moment might not fully hit you until they’re walking out the front door of your home for their first day.


Tuition, for the most part, is expected to be the single most expensive piece of the overall “going to school experience”, especially if your kid plans on staying at home for the duration of their academic career. If they’ll be staying at school, chances are the costs of food and residency will be the high-priced items of the experience.

So what is the cost of getting an undergraduate degree these days, anyway? On average, the annual cost of tuition alone rose to $6,9071, up 1.8% from the 2016/2017 school year. Which means that the cost of a 4-year undergraduate program alone costs Canadian students and families around $27,628.1 But what about living expenses?

Living Expenses & More

For those choosing to live on campus, here’s a few statistics to help you get familiar with some of the average costs of living expenses for the duration of the 8-month academic year.

When it comes to food, on average students will spend between $1604 and $3700 a year.  No doubt one of the bigger portions that make up student living expenses. And with the changing seasons, how much does clothing cost? The expected expense of student clothing is anywhere between $900 and $1100 for the academic year.

Another large expense to consider is, of course, the dreaded costs of books and supplies. These expenses alone costs students $1000 on the lower end, and upwards of $2000 per year, which includes costs of instruments as well (for programs that require these).

Other expenses like local transit typically cost students just over $115 per month in some cities, which on average sums up to be just over $900 annually. And the same statistics proved students should also be prepared to spend between $1000 and $2000 on miscellaneous expenses like phone and wifi bills.

So whether you and your child are a few years away from their first year of undergrad, or if they are already into their first semester, we hope you find these numbers helpful in preparing for your child’s education.



Source 1: Tuition Costs –

Source 2: Living Expenses –