Paying for school. Five ways to find the money for your child’s postsecondary education
We all know postsecondary education isn’t free. After high school, students and their families have to figure out what’s next. Postsecondary education isn’t always financially possible, but there are lots of funding options to help families in need of a little extra. So how can you help make sure your kids have the freedom to go after the postsecondary program they want?
Five ways to help finance your child’s postsecondary education
Each year, more than 2 million Canadians enrol in postsecondary programs, according to Stats Canada. Finding the best way to finance postsecondary education costs is a family decision – it might be as simple as cashing in an RESP, or it might involve more than one layer of outside assistance.
- Cash in your Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
You probably aren’t reading this while your child is eight months old, planning for their future education. But if you planned early enough and kept up with even small contributions, your RESP will have grown over the last 17 years or so, aided by government contributions (grants).
Families who have saved up for their child’s education can lean on money from their RESP funds. It works like getting a paycheque. If you maxed out your lifetime contribution limit ($50k per child) this could cover the majority of their post-secondary expenses.
- The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
OSAP provides loans that need to be repaid. The maximum amount of funding for a single student in 2019-2020 is $400 per week. The amount a student receives depends on their immigration status, residency status and income (family income included). Applying for OSAP funding takes about 15 minutes. To apply, students will need to provide:
- The SIN of both their parents (if applicable)
- The school they’re going to attend
- Program information
- Tax information
- Parents’ tax information (if applicable)
If you apply for OSAP, you’re also automatically considered for the Canada Student Grant, a non-repayable grant.
- Postsecondary Grants And Bursaries
Plenty of money is available out there, aside from OSAP, to help students with postsecondary expenses. Most of these are non-repayable. The money is all yours! Most grants and bursaries are registered in two places:
Some are specific to a postsecondary institution, or a certain age category, or a level of academic achievement, or a field of study. There are all kinds of different categories, and your child can apply for as many as they qualify for. Don’t miss out on free money!
All Canadian banks offer flexible student loan financing options that include relatively low interest rates and what the banks call flexible repayment options, including interest-only payments while enrolled in studies.
A student line of credit is a good way to start building a good credit score, as long as your family can keep up with the payments, since interest accrues the moment money is spent.
Parents will have to co-sign for most students.
- Working While Enrolled
Some students are able to maintain a job while completing their courses. This can be a great way to keep on top of costs and build your child’s resume even before graduating.
There are all kinds of jobs for students studying on the Georgian Barrie Campus and Lakehead Orillia Campus, and students can find work all over Barrie and Orillia, near campus and along the city bus routes. The right job might even lead to fulltime work right after graduation!
How to keep postsecondary education costs down
Parents and students should keep in mind that the cost of tuition is only one piece of the postsecondary education pie. If the student will be living away from home, you’ll need to account for:
- Costs of living such as dorm residence, apartment, or housing rental. Living in residence on the Georgian Barrie campus, for example, will cost $7,440 in the 2020-2021 school year (meal plan not included).
- Food expenses. If eating primarily on campus, meal plans on the Lakehead Orillia campus can cost between $4,400-$5,000 each year. Georgian College offers the ONECard, which students can load with however much money they want, and can use all over campus. It can be more economical, but less convenient, for students to rent an apartment or share a residence with other students who have access to a kitchen and cooking facilities.
- Transportation. If the student drives, they’ll need to consider the price of gas, monthly parking fees, insurance, etc. Public transportation is often a cheaper option and bus routes in Barrie and Orillia are convenient for students, offering direct routes to grocery stores and other locations common for students.
Lakehead-Georgian postsecondary partnership programs
As you and your child discuss postsecondary education options, think about the value you both get from one of the Lakehead-Georgian partnership programs. Students can get more educational credentials in less time. They’ll graduate with a competitive edge over other students, without paying for additional years of school – potentially saving $10K or more.
Currently, the programs offered at Lakehead-Georgian include:
- Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) Degree with Electrical Engineering Advanced Diploma
- Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environmental Sustainability (Specialization in Ecosystem Management) Degree with Environmental Technician Diploma
- Honours Bachelor of Science – Applied Life Sciences (Specialization in Biomedical Techniques) Degree with Biotechnology-Health Diploma
- Honours Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) Degree with Computer Programming Diploma
Each of the above programs offer both practical and theoretical opportunities for learning in a variety of formats. Additionally, each course boasts a high employment rate upon completion in a wide range of fulfilling careers.
Don’t let money get in the way of your child’s future. There are lots of places to find assistance, and most families need it. A little time spent finding the right loan, grant and other options can have a huge payoff for your child in the future.