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4 Ways to Pay For School – Know All Your Options


Published April 28, 2022 • 4 Min Read

If you’ve started — or are looking into starting your post-secondary education in the next year, you’re probably working through what your costs for school will be, and how you’ll pay them. You’re not alone. Research has shown that paying for school in Canada has become an exercise in pooling money from a variety of sources and finding the most effective — and inventive — ways to fund your education.

Here are four options to consider when paying for college or university. Keep in mind – you can use one option or all four combined!

1. Personal savings / RESPs

Many students start thinking about paying for school early — but it’s okay if you haven’t. If you can take on a part-time or summer job during high school, you can save some of that money to start building your college or university fund.

Plus, some parents set up an RESP when their children are small. The savings in these plans can really add up over time — talk to your parents to see if they had set one up when you were young, it could be a strong contributor to your education fund.

2. Scholarships / Grants / Bursaries

Make sure to research for scholarships, grants, or bursaries that you may be eligible for. Many scholarships are based on merit, while grants and bursaries are often awarded based on financial need (but other accomplishments may be considered). Either way, it’s assistance you usually don’t have to pay back once you graduate.

Talk to your guidance counselors, and financial aid offices at the schools you may attend, as they have lists of available scholarships to apply for.

There are also helpful websites such as Scholarships Canada, that provide a database of scholarships and match you to those that you may qualify for. It makes the process easier!

3. Government loans and bank loans

All levels of government in Canada offer some kind of financial assistance to post-secondary students, and there are many options to consider.

Grants: Last year, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program doubled the Canada Student Grant for the 2020-2021 school year — setting the maximum amount available to full-time students at $6,000. For students with disabilities the amount increased to $10,000. The good news is that the Government extended the doubling of grant maximums until the end of July 2023.

Student Loans: Government student loans are based on financial circumstances, and often require you to keep up a certain course load and academic average.

Learn more about the Government of Canada’s assistance programs for education planning and student aid.

4. Employment during school / On-campus jobs

If possible — and your course load allows it — getting a part-time job or having a side-hustle while in school may help you during the school year.

  • Look for on-campus, off-campus or virtual job opportunities that pay you while also giving you practical work experience (which means you’re beefing up your resume at the same time!).

  • You can also check job sites that cater to students and new grads such as and

  • Another great tool to help build your professional network is LinkedIn. It can help you to build your personal brand, find potential part-time jobs and connect to professionals in industries you’re interested in.

  • Side-hustles that you can do on your own schedule have become a legitimate financial help to students. Side-hustles like tutoring, dog-walking, food delivery or selling items online are all easy to start and flexible enough to keep from eating into your study schedule.

Tip: While you’re looking for a job to fit your schedule, now may be a good time to make or revisit your budget.

No matter what combination of methods you use to pay for school, every dollar counts. One way to make your funds go further is by taking a financial inventory and creating a budget that works for you. Your budget may even help you feel in more control of your finances and give you a greater sense of confidence throughout college or university.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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