University costs

April 01, 2021

Can student housing really be a good investment?

While rising tuition costs grab the headlines, the bulk of the cost for sending kids off to university is actually four or five years of food and lodging.

At the University of Toronto, residence fees vary and increase every year; throw in a meal plan and an approximate average is $10,000 per year.

Instead of forking over even more cash to the university or nearby landlords, some enterprising parents prefer to buy a nearby property for their children to live in during their university years.

That's what one Kleinburg couple did the year before their oldest daughter started her second year of studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. 

"Over all, it was a very profitable experience,” they told the Globe and Mail. "We had enough rental income coming in to offset the monthly costs of the house, and at the same time we were building equity."

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March 28, 2021

Funding post-secondary education

298822_6140There's much to be said about a good education.

But if you're late getting out of the gate, how do you plan on funding your child's post-secondary education?

Graduating high school students, like my daughter in Grade 12, are just now starting to get their acceptance letters to colleges and universities. And, according to a new report by BMO Wealth Institute, a four-year university degree can cost upwards of $60,000 and yet three-quarters of Canadian parents are not prepared and only half have taken advantage of Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).

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March 13, 2022

Deducting student loan interest not as easy as it seems

Post-secondary students enjoy some of the most generous tax credits available. And even though they generally can’t use them right away, they’re allowed to carry forward unused amounts for the future when they’re earning more money.

Alternatively, they can transfer credits to a spouse, parent or grandparent, advises Cleo Hamel , a senior tax analyst with H&R Block Canada.

Full-time students can claim $400 per month and part-time students $120 per month. The number of months you’re allowed to claim is indicated on your T2202A Form.

Your tax return is for the calendar year though, so if you attended school from September to December, your T2202A Form will indicate four months. And you can claim partial months if you started late or finished early, Hamel says.

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January 29, 2022

Will Canada mimic U.S. government's student loan forgiveness program?

Recent graduates trapped under a mountain of student loan debt and worrying about interest rates rising in the future may wish they lived across the border.

Under certain circumstances, the U.S. government will forgive the remainder of your federal student loan debt if you work in the public sector or for a registered nonprofit for 10 years and make your payments on time.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is open to indebted students who become police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or public school teachers, for instance.

And they're still not satisfied. Those who haven’t paid off their student loans overwhelmingly want those loans forgiven by their lenders, according to a recent survey released by online research firm,

In this country, however, you're expected to pay it all back -- unless you're in the medical profession, that is.

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January 16, 2022

How much of your child's college costs are you willing to cover?

Few financial decisions a parent makes are as significant -- or as expensive -- as figuring out how much to pay for a child's education.

993663_graduation_capAnd with tuition costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, and more and more students graduating with staggering loan debt, it's a decision that can create financial and emotional strain for even the most  affluent families.

Recently, Morningstar Advisor quizzed investors on how much of their child's college costs they paid or plan to pay and why. Readers shared stories about how they funded their children's educations and just how far they were willing to go to help them get ahead.

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November 16, 2021

Money troubles add to students’ burden well before graduation: study

As if big school wasn't hard enough.

Money troubles interfere with the academic performance of about one-third of all college students, according to a recent study of colleges and universities in both the United States and Canada.

And it's not just mounting student debt that has them worried. Aside from tuition, many admit that they regularly skip buying required academic materials because of the costs.

About three-fifths of students surveyed reported that they often worry about having enough money to cover ordinary costs, and those holding down jobs are the most stressed.

Among those who work more than 20 hours a week, about three-fifths said that their jobs got in the way of school work. Yet just as many had considered working more hours to ease financial pressures.

Not that this is anything new.

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November 14, 2021

Exchange tuition for a small percentage of future income: report

Imagine going to university without paying tuition up front and committing instead to paying a small percentage of your future income so that others might so the same.

That what the the Economic Opportunity Institute's so-called "Pay it Forward" plan aims to do, all the while erasing the financial and psychological barriers that keep some lower- and middle-income students from going to higher education.

Under the program, students pay no upfront tuition fees to attend school. Instead, they pay a small percentage of their adjusted gross income for a number of years after graduating: 0.75% per year of community college, or 1% per year of university, for 25 years.

Payments are placed in a trust fund that covers the cost for future students to receive the same opportunity to attend university with no tuition fees – hence, the Pay It Forward concept.

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August 29, 2021

Parents of university-bound children advised to cut the strings

Any parents with adult children in university know that while "kids" like to think they're now on their own, they're often still dependent on Mom and Dad, particularly when it comes to money.

As a result, it's not unusual to receive a phone call or email with a plaintive cry for money. And virtually instant Interac and Paypal transfers only help speed up the wealth transfer.

But are you doing them a favour?

Although it may be tough, be careful how you respond to such requests, warns family therapist Jennifer Kolari, author of You’re Ruining My Life! (But Not Really): Surviving the Teenage Years With Connected Parenting.

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August 27, 2021

Have you ever calculated the real cost of having kids?

On a purely economic basis, having kids makes little sense.

In fact, in our non-agrarian society, they provide almost no payback, particularly when you consider that student debt and high housing costs often force them to live at home well into their 29s and 30s. 

We do know that costs vary by household income (the more money you have, the more you spend on a child) and that the second one doesn't cost as much as the first.

But what's the target number for the average family?

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August 21, 2021

Time for restrictions on how students spend loan money?

In the ideal, student loans are supposed to pay for tuition, books, room and board — you know, the basics. But, since it's the first time that they've had that much cash available to them, some students get a little carried away.

It's easy to become complacent about student debt (now easily topping $20,000 per student, according to BMO research) because the bills don't show up until after a six-month grace period following graduation.

“So many students are told to take out more loans than they need for books and other things, but I saw student loans pay for more spring break trips, TVs and cars than I can count,” writes Stephanie M.

“I didn’t get one, but my roommate did, and she thought it was free money. So she bought a bunch of clothes — including gifts for me and the other girls living there. The school counselors do make it seem like free money though, saying you can buy whatever you want with it," adds Renata M.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...