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Funding a Post-Secondary Degree in Canada

By: Janice Bandick

Published On: March 23, 2015

Today, a student attending post-secondary institutions (trade schools, colleges or universities) in Canada on a full-time basis can expect to pay between $2,500 and $8,000 per year in tuition. Textbooks, supplies, student fees, transportation, housing and other expenses will add to that total.

In 2010–2011, full-time students in Canada paid an average of $14,500 per year for post-secondary schooling, for a total of approximately $58,000 for a four-year program. Despite this, the number of students enrolled in post-secondary education has increased steadily each year since 2001.

Education is an investment that generally pays strong dividends, with post-secondary graduates less likely to be unemployed and to more likely to out-earn their less educated counterparts.


With these facts in mind, what options do students attending post-secondary institutions in Canada have for paying for their education?

Scholarships, Grants and Bursaries

Scholarships, grants and bursaries are forms of financial assistance that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are typically based on merit, while grants and bursaries usually take financial need into consideration. Some scholarships, grants and bursaries are also based on academic achievement, athletic skill, extra-curricular involvement, or special abilities.

Resources for finding scholarships, grants, bursaries and additional financial planning information include:

  • Scholarships Canada, an extensive, searchable database of scholarships, student awards, bursaries and grants.
  • Yconic, a searchable database of scholarships, bursaries, fellowships, grants and other financial awards available to Canadian students.
  • CanLearn, a source for interactive information and tools designed to help students save, plan and pay for post-secondary education.
  • Scholarships.gc.ca, a resource for students interested in studying abroad.

Student Loans and Lines of Credit

Government student loans are a form of financial assistance provided by the government that eventually need to be repaid. Student lines of credit are provided by banks and credit unions and must be paid back.

The Canada Student Loans Program offers loans and grants in partnership with provinces and territories to Canadians attending a university, college, trade school or vocational school.


Some students may be entitled to funding in the form of grants to help finance their post-secondary education. Grants do not need to be paid back.

Individuals who qualify for a Canada Student Loan are automatically assessed for most Canada Student Grants (except for the Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities, where a separate application is required).

Available grants include:

  • Grant for Students from Low-Income Families
  • Grant for Students from Middle-Income Families
  • Grant for Students with Dependents
  • Grant for Part-Time Studies
  • Grant for Part-time Students with Dependents
  • Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
  • Grant for Services and Equipment for Persons with Permanent Disabilities

Registered Education Savings Plans

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a special savings account registered by the Government of Canada that is used to save money for education after high school.

With an RESP, students may be able to receive other saving incentives, such as the:

  • Canada Learning Bond; and the
  • Basic and Additional Canada Education Savings Grant.


Ashton students who are looking to explore their funding options can do so by clicking here.



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