What Should You Really Expect with Regards to Your Child’s Post-Secondary Education Costs?
It’s no secret to any parent with aspirations of paying for their child’s post-secondary education that the cost of doing so is quickly inching beyond the reach of even the most affluent families. Post-secondary education costs continue to increase at a much faster rate than the rate of inflation.
For the parents of a new born today, the average total cost of a post-secondary education could be as high as $130,428 per year at the current pace of cost increases. Even a community college could run more than $41,000 a year. In Ontario in 1990, the average university tuition cost was $2,574, but it will surge to $8,756 for 2016. The cost of paying for a child’s post-secondary education becomes an astronomical number for the average Canadian family when you consider all of the additional costs involved. It’s easy to see how the amounts add up using estimated figures for 2016 for the province of Ontario and national averages (these totals represent just one year):
- Tuition and Fees: $8,756
- Room and Board: $9, 000
- Books and Supplies: $800-$1000
- Personal and Transportation Expenses: $1000
What are Parents to do?
To state the obvious, parents who are serious about securing a quality post-secondary education for their children must plan well ahead and start saving as early as possible. However, with post-secondary education costs increasing at such a torrid pace, parents must not lose sight of other important priorities, such as their retirement. Planning for post-secondary education expenses must be done in the context of an overall financial plan, with the understanding that available resources must be directed towards the very top priorities first. The reality for many families is that they may never be able to save enough to fund a post-secondary education. So where will the funding come from?
Nearly 60 percent of today’s post-secondary students are eligible for financial aid. With proper post-secondary education savings planning, even some affluent families can qualify for financial aid available through federal grants and from the post-secondary education institutions themselves. Determining financial aid eligibility for some bursaries and grants can be somewhat complicated; however, the general formula considers the assets and income of the child foremost, and then, based on the parent’s financial circumstances, they may determine a “family contribution” portion of aid. Start your financial aid planning early – no later than your child’s freshman year in high school.
It’s a myth that only the very brightest or most athletic kids can get scholarships. In fact, scholarships in all forms and sizes are widely available. Although many are “small” - $500 to $2,000 – they can add up if you know where to find them. Check with your school counsellor and community leaders to learn more about how to find scholarships.
The increase in availability of student loans is a double edged sword for students and their families. Nearly 70 percent of post-secondary students graduate with student loan debt. Consequently, student loan defaults are on the rise. Borrowing for post-secondary education expenses should be a last resort, but, if it’s done right, in the context of a well-conceived financial plan, it doesn’t have to create an insurmountable financial burden. You may also want to encourage your child to look into fields of study with good prospects for jobs and stable income.
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