The true costs of education and how to control it

As a student I was shocked when I realized what the true costs were going to be for my education.  Yes, I had been warned by my parents and yes, the university covered all the costs during my many trips to campus before selecting and registering at Acadia.  However, it was not until the end of my first year did I totally understand the true cost of my education when you include books, supplies, clothing and social spending which is my term for just about everything that is not directly related to school.  When you add it all up and average it over my time at Acadia my university costs were just over $23,000 which was about $3000 higher than that of the average student in Canada living on campus and more than twice what a student living at home and going to university will spend on education.

These are a few recommendations that many students have learned to help you lower the cost of your education because government loans, lines of credit, student credit cards and even the bank of mom and dad only go so far and will at some point have to be paid back.

If you have the option to live with your parents or a family member while attending university, do it as this can go a long way to reducing your education costs.  In saying that, I believe that every student should spend their first year on campus as it is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, experience campus life and get a full understanding of what the university offers its students.  Then, if the option is available live at home and if home happens to be Wolfville, it would save you about $13,000 a year if you have a single room in residence with Acadia’s mandatory meal plan.

If living at home is not an option, then opting for a shared room versus a single room can help you reduce costs or as many students do after meeting new friends in their first year look for off campus housing which can greatly reduce your education costs for the next three years and reduce your university-related debt when you graduate by between $10,000 and $30,000.

I also recommend that you set a budget for social spending and stick to it, yes it is hard but remember if you are not working during the school year that bank account has to last from late August until mid April.  So, track your spending and keep an eye on your money so that you make informed decisions about spending and make the necessary trade-offs to social and other spending keeping debt to a minimum.

If possible, create an emergency fund and that is not a phone call to mom and dad to ask for money, yes I have made that call, but I am not proud of it.  That is why I learned to set aside between $300 and $500 for emergencies.

Once you graduate start paying down your debt as soon as possible using many of the same skills that you used to control debt in school can carry over to your post-graduate life.  Make a plan to pay off debt and stay with it and if possible, living at home can help you achieve this goal quicker.  Sure, once you graduate you want to get out into the big world, but as my dad, who also went to Acadia University says, live at home and pay off your university debt, then you can focus on your life and not carry your education debt around with you in your later adult years when you are looking to buy a house and start a family of your own. 

by Calli Gregg