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Smart Students Save Early

In yesterday’s blog, we provided a number of tips for post-secondary students on how to budget for the back-to-school season. With everything from tuition to residence fees, those going to college and university have some of the largest expenditures of just about anyone this time of the year.

With the help of business reporter Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew of The Toronto Star, we looked at some ways that students can stretch their dollars as far as possible. Acharya-Tom Yew, herself, got some advice from a number of sources including Lawrence Engel, the Vice President of Personal Lending at TD Canada Trust and Alan Kaplan, the associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management at Ryerson University.

In her report published last week, Acharya-Tom Yew reveals that “the average cost of a four-year undergrad education for students living away from home is now estimated at about $80,000.” According to Engel, “The numbers continue to creep up and up and up. The amount of savings that either the child or parent is important but there’s often a shortfall.”

Kaplan advises that to properly budget for such major costs, students must prioritize. Clearly, tuition, living accommodations and books should be at the top of the priority list. Those staying on campus will have more to save for than if they are able to remain living at home while going to school.

A few ways to help out with proper budgeting include checking out the federal government’s Education Cost Calculator or speaking to a student financial officer or advisor at the school. Any help is good help, of course. But getting advice from professional sources is the best kind of help.

What if university is still a few years away? Of course, it is makes sense to begin saving for your post-secondary education before the time comes to go to college or university. But high-schoolers and saving money are not generally two things that make a common match. Acharya-Tom Yew notes that “Registered Education Savings Plans are a popular choice for parents of young children. Investments can grow tax-free and the government pitches in, too.”

Kaplan adds that school children need to start young when it comes to financial planning. During their high school years, students should be encouraged to find part time jobs to teach them both responsibility and the concept of saving money and budgeting for important expenses.

Says Kaplan: “I’m a big believer that if we can encourage young people to take ownership of their own finances and some pride in achieving goals, they will be able to do that through their lives.”

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