At D. & A. MacLeod Company, we recognize the financial struggles that many students in Ontario face as they advance through their post-secondary education.
Most students that embark on this journey will accumulate large amounts of debt through student loans, through the cost of living on their own for the first time, and through the basic necessities of fulfilling their education. High levels of student debt can be distressing, especially once you’ve graduated. After all, the last thing you want is to be held back by needing to make large loan payments when money is required for housing, moving expensive, furniture, vehicles or driving to a new job, business ventures and other such expenses. For all these reasons and more, it’s vital that you do what you can to effectively manage your debt during your university years. Here are some tips that can help you get through it!
STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT: APPLY FOR GRANTS, SCHOLARSHIPS OR BURSARIES
Reducing your tuition fees can prevent you from accruing student debt. One of the best resources for students in Ontario is the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). In addition to offering student loans, OSAP provides many students with grants. The size of the grants OSAP gives out are based on your education expenses, course load and personal financial situation. Additionally, students should look into what financial aid programs their particular schools offer. Post-secondary institutions generally have a certain number of bursaries and scholarships. There are also tens of thousands of private scholarships and bursaries available to Canadian post-secondary students. A good place to start your search is Scholarships Canada.
CAN YOU GENERATE INCOME WHILE STUDYING?
Many students get part-time jobs to help with their finances during their university and college years. Some even start saving for their college fund during high school or during their summers off. Securing a flexible, part-time job is a great option as long as it doesn’t distract you from your studies. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be gaining new skills that will serve you in the future and adding experience to your resume. If you’re having trouble finding work, know that many schools have an employment office that can assist you with this. Moreover, you may want to look into what sorts of work-study programs your university offers. If a part-time job would interfere too much with your studies, then consider working during the summer holidays. If you’re particularly concerned about your financial situation, you might consider a gap year during which you can work and build up your savings. This has become an increasingly popular choice for students over the last decade as they take time off to work, travel, or choose they need some extra time to decide which program to pursue.
MANAGE YOUR EXPENSES WITH A BUDGET
Being smart with your money is a huge part of managing student debt. It’s extremely useful to form a budget for yourself, determining how much money you can dish out monthly and on what you should spend it. Creating a monthly spreadsheet to track your expenses can be eye-opening and if you find that you’re consistently spending more than you earn or if you notice that you have to put everything on your credit card, facing the reality of your situation immediately is better than letting it accrue interest or impacting your credit score. We advise you to please pay close attention to your credit card. Pay it off each month so that you won’t have to deal with a poor credit score holding you back once you graduate.
If you feel that you’re in over your head in terms of budgeting, loans, or your credit card is accumulating debt quicker than you can handle, consider reaching out to one of our licenced insolvency trustees for credit counselling to get you back on the right track as soon as possible.
FILE YOUR TAXES PROPERLY
Finally, make sure you take advantage of the tax breaks afforded to you as a student. In addition to a tuition tax credit, you may be eligible for deductions on student loans, childcare expenses, and moving expenses. Read our blog about tax tips for students for more in-depth information!