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  • Writer's pictureDwaine Praught


MacLean's magazine has just published its latest University rankings issue, an annual article comparing education options across the country. In this year's issue they have added an additional item that is of some interest, a cost estimate for attending each of the largest 48 Universities in Canada. The costs assume the student is living away from home and include tuition, rent, food (both meal plan and off-campus spend), travel, books, extra-curricular activities and alcohol. (MacLean's provides a breakdown of where the money is being spent as well.) Not surprisingly, the average spend is just under $19,500 per year.

While the individual placement of the schools can be misleading (20 occasions where schools are separated by less than $100) and may greatly influenced by the lifestyles of the sample of students participating in the survey, there are some noteworthy findings. Particularly interesting is the disparity across the country, where we see sizeable differences as noted in the following table:

The low costs associated with Newfoundland, Quebec and Manitoba are a result of the low tuition fees mandated by the provinces, which at less than $4,000 per year are less than half of what it will cost Ontario students. Going to school in the city of Toronto will cost more than just about anywhere else in the country due to the added living expenses associated with staying in the downtown area. Despite having the highest average tuition cost in the country, most Ontario Universities still sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to all-in costs, likely due in part to the accessibility created by having 17 schools throughout the province, allowing for reduced travel expenses.

Another interesting note from the article is the low cost of $9,300 per year cost associated with students that continue to live at home while going to school. There is a significant cost savings in doing so, but of course will provide a vastly different learning experience. One must also factor in that those students are still incurring the cost of meals at home which are not included in the figure provided (nor would be the cost of a vehicle if necessary for travel).

Of further note, while planning for your academic future, the costs referred to in the survey are assuming tuition costs for typical undergraduate programming. Students interested in post-graduate programs such as medicine, law, dentistry or pharmacology can expect to pay additional tuition premiums of $3,000 to $12,000 per year.

Regardless of where a child goes to school, families should start planning as early as possible for their children's post-secondary education plan. It is truly an investment in the future and should be treated as any other investment - with careful consideration.

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