Every May, post-secondary students are given four months off. Disguised as "vacation", these 16 weeks are really a hectic money-making period, as students scramble to fill their savings accounts and offset the steep costs of the next eight months. The end goal: a comfortable financial safety blanket that lasts the duration of the school year, which is crucial as work hours are harder to come by once classes start. It's no easy feat, considering the ever-rising cost of tuition (and much-less frequent wage increases). As I start my fourth year of my post-secondary program, I'm faced with seemingly endless expenses, all designed to distract or prevent me from saving the way I plan to. I know other students feel the same way, so here are a few alternative "money making" methods for students that'll help avoid financial crisis and snowballing debt.
Save Out of Sight
It’s never too late to start putting aside portions of paycheques into a separate savings pool. If you can’t see it, it will generally help you to stop thinking about it, right? Savings accounts are especially useful when your lender tacks a high interest rate on to them, which can often result in a nice cash reward for you holding your money with them. To grow your money even further, try setting up automatic deposits every time you use your chequing account. For every dollar you spend, a pre-determined amount automatically gets transferred into savings. This is a great way to help your savings climb, with little to no extra effort required!
Tuition Grants and Bursaries
These awards are offered by your school as an attempt to help offset the cost of tuition, and are eligible to all students that show financial need. Not only are the awarded grants non-repayable, but they generally are in amounts of around $1,000 – definitely helpful! To apply, locate the student financial aid office at your school to see if you are eligible, and from there you are just a quick application away from applying for some free money. There are also a number of resources off-campus to find you to some much-needed money. Yconic and Scholarships Canada features a number of available scholarships along with handy matching tools for those with specific achievements, participation records and backgrounds. The Canadian government also has a handy roundup of grants available to certain groups nation-wide.
Most colleges and universities offer on-campus jobs as a way for students to earn cash while maintaining a balance with their classes.The institution generally allocates part of its budget specifically for their work study program, which pays eligible students for various job positions on campus. Be sure to drop in at your campus career centre to ask for openings, and do it early - on-site jobs tend to be snapped up before the school year starts.
Lines of Credit for Students
This is very similar to receiving an OSAP loan, except that your lender provides you with access to funds – instead of funds being added directly to your account – all to help pay for the expenses of school. Generally without any annual or monthly fees, a line of credit is especially useful in learning to budget your expenses.
While only available for Ontario residents, the Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP) is a mix of grants and loans available to also help offset costs while you are in school. The loans are flexible in that you don’t have to start making payments until six months post-completion of your program. The grants offered on the other hand are completely non-repayable, meaning that if eligible, the money is yours and it’s yours to keep. At the end of the day, it is important to know that there is no one universal solution that will help students with their finances – but there will be a way that works best for each person individually. Play it by year, and try your best to take it all in stride and not get overwhelmed.
About the Author: Derek Nicholson
Derek is in his fourth year of the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Humber College, working as an intern with the marketing team at RateSupermarket.ca over the summer. As his first foray into the world of personal finance, he hopes to expand and further develop his understanding while offering insight from a student’s perspective.