A Simple Guide to Budgeting for Student Life

One of the things you’ll soon realize when you start college is that it’s very easy to overspend. But we’ll show you how to effectively budget your money as a college student. Budgeting is key to a happy and stress-free college life. It will help you to keep track of what you’re spending and the money you have coming in. We’ll go through the main costs that you’re likely to incur as a student.

Tuition And Student Fees

You’ll need to pay tuition fees in order to be enrolled in your program and begin your classes. How much you pay will depend on several factors including:

  • Your program of study
  • The school you attend
  • Your residency status or citizenship
  • The type and number of classes you take
  • Whether you select part-time versus full-time study

Other than the tuition fees, you may have to budget for other school charges such as administration fees and student union fees. This will depend on your college and the program you enroll for.

Health Insurance Costs

Keep in mind that if you are an international student in Canada you are obligated to have health insurance plan. Most schools provide health insurance coverage. If you decide to opt out from the school’s coverage, you will need to provide proof that you have health insurance coverage elsewhere.

Dental insurance is often not covered by the school’s coverage so it’s always wise to find a good dental clinic that offers incredible student discounts. Private health insurance companies may also offer some of the health services which your school cover doesn’t provide such as dental costs, ambulance charges, and prescription medication.

Cost Of Books And Course Materials

You need to budget ahead for the amount of money you’ll spend on books and other course materials. This amount will vary depending on your program and school but expect to spend anywhere between $800 to $1,000 per year if you are an undergraduate student. The best way to get a more accurate estimate of how much you’re likely to spend on books and course materials is to check with someone who’s already enrolled in a similar program in your school.

Tips to spend less on books and course materials

  • Consider buying used books instead of new ones
  • Consider getting books from online retailers who usually have great discounts compared to campus bookstores
  • Instead of buying the actual book, get an electronic version of the textbook or article you need
  • Share certain books with roommates or classmates
  • Visit the school library to see if you can borrow the books or course materials
  • Sell your used books or exchange for new ones
  • Consider getting an older edition of the book if possible.

Save On Student Accommodation

One of the important decisions you’ll have to make that will have a significant impact on your financial situation is where you decide to live while on campus. You’ll have two options to choose from: living in the student residence or living off campus.

Living off campus

Living off campus can be a costly option especially if you choose to live alone and far away from school. You’ll spend more on transportation as well as utility bills such as heat, Internet, and hydro. Even if you still choose to live with roommates, you should include the costs of food, entertainment and other daily basic needs. Just make sure you do your research early enough to find shops that offer student discounts. Many students prefer to use public transport with monthly TTC pass or Presto Card and a GO stickers to save on gas and parking fees.

Living in student residence

On-campus living has so many advantages. To start with, you get to live close to campus so it’s easy to walk anywhere on campus in minutes. The accommodation cost often includes Internet, kitchen facilities, and break-out rooms so you get to enjoy a fully-amenitized living at a very reasonable cost. You just need to identify a suitable student residence in Toronto with easy access to public transit so you don’t have to spend much on transport costs.

Entertainment Costs

There’s more to college than just doing assignments and attending classes. You need to enjoy student life, and this partly means that you’ll have to budget for entertainment. Unfortunately, student aid doesn’t cater to entertainment expenses. You need to get a little more creative and find ways to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank. Focus on what you need rather than what you want and take advantage of student discount cards to save on these expenses.

For example, you can by a Toronto CityPass which will save you over 30% off admission to Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, Casa Loma, OM, Ripley’s Aquarium and Ontario Science Centre. Many clothing outlets and shops offer student discount, so always keep your student card with you. Also, consider getting yourself a Student Price Card (SPC card) – it will allow you get good deals in various stores in Toronto from restaurants and fashion outlets to gyms and traveling.

Figure Out Your Income Sources

It’s important to understand where your money will come from before you begin student life. It’s great when your parents are paying for you, but you an adult cookie now, right? And not every parent can afford paying for school in Canada. There are different sources of income to finance your education and generally your student life are available in Ontario:

  • Scholarships and grants (each school has it’s own)
  • Student loans (OSAP)
  • Student credit cards

You can visit a financial institution to get more information on student credit cards. Most of these cards have a lower interest rate but like all the rest, they are an expensive form of credit so make sure you pay off the balance in full each month. Shop around to find the cheapest credit cards that suit your needs.

Another great way to save is by taking advantage of tax deductions and tax credits each time you file your returns. For instance, you may qualify for tax deductions that reduce your taxable income such as child care expenses. Tax credits for expenses such as books, tuition fees and interest paid on your student loans will reduce the amount you owe. Take all these steps to budget better for student life and keep your finances in order to avoid stress.

Looking for more tips on how to save, check out:

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like


Toronto’s longest running multi-arts fashion week, Fashion Art Toronto (FAT) has curated an incredible line-up for their Fall 2023 fashion week. Once again taking over 20,000...


College campuses are gearing up for another school year, and we know, you know, you should be too! So, we put together a handful...


#TrendingInMilan: Party Outfits #TrendingInMilan: Party Outfits. This week on our #TrendingIn Series, we’re heading to Milan. Discover all the winter outfits you can create...


Designer Profile: María Correa Founder of María Correa Designs María Correa is a Fashion Designer and Painter Artist who appreciates the world through the...