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According to Statistics Canada, there were almost 640, 000 international students in Canada in 2019. And this number has only been rising since the mid 2000s. With a high quality of education, safe society, and the possibility to remain in Canada after graduation, it is easy to see why so many foreign students come to Canada. But, how much does it cost to study abroad in Canada?
In short you can expect to spend anywhere from $30,000 to well over $100,000 per year to study abroad in Canada! These costs are influenced by where in Canada you go and what type of institution you attend. There are different costs of living across the country and different tuition costs between private university, public university, and trades school. Here is a breakdown of the costs.
Please note that although I have the experience of having studied at a Canadian university, I am not an expert and I cannot give you individualized advice. If you wish to study abroad in Canada, always consult the website of the university you’d like to attend. Reach out to them if you have additional questions regarding costs, and admissions. Additionally, all prices I mention in this article are in Canadian dollars.
Here is a breakdown of costs per category:
Tuition for international students is very expense in Canada. You can expect to spend over $30,000 at a private university. For example, for profit private University of Fredericton charges $31,297 for an EMBA program that is taught entirely online. On the other hand, on campus Bachelor of Business Administration from Yorkville University only charges around $7,000 per year in tuition.
But don’t think that a public university is more affordable. Depending on your program of study, you may end up paying more at a public institution versus a private one. For example, the 2022-2023 tuition for a bachelors in engineering at the University of Toronto is $63,500 per YEAR. The program lasts 5 years, and tuition tends to increase every year, so you’ll be paying well over $320,000 in tuition alone.
International tuition for trades schools can also be quite expensive, however most study programs are only 2 years in length which makes the total cost of acquiring your education more affordable. For instance, the tuition for the 2 year Culinary Arts diploma at NAIT is just under $45,000. Significantly cheaper than one year of engineering.
In addition to tuition, most universities also charge additional fees. These costs include Students’ Union fees, gym membership, public transit pass, and sometimes health insurance. For example, at U of T this fee is $1,878 for engineering students. However, international students are required to purchase an additional health insurance which is $756 per year. These fees are mandatory and you cannot opt out of paying them.
Whenever you are budgeting for your study abroad in Canada, make sure to check what other additional fees you’d have to pay. If you cannot find any information on the university’s website, don’t assume there aren’t any. Even as a domestic student I budgeted for the tuition advertised on the website, only to receive the bill and find out it was thousands of dollars more expensive than I was expecting due to all the hidden fees. So the moral of the story is to contact the university and directly ask them what other fees there are.
When it comes to textbooks, you’ll be paying the same price as the local, domestic students. The most expensive textbooks I ever purchased were around $200. Some classes require less expensive textbooks, but you won’t know that until the semester begins. Therefore I would budget $200 x the number of classes you’re taking. If you’re attending a 4 year bachelor, you’ll be taking around 10 classes per year, or 40 classes total. Thus make sure to have at least $8,000 set aside for textbooks. You probably won’t need that much but it’s better to be prepared.
Canada is a very expensive country to live in. When it comes to your living arrangements, you have two options:
The on campus dorm option is nice because you know in advance where you will be living. However, dorms in Canada (at least what I have seen) are not as nice as abroad. You will most likely share a room with another person, and you’ll share a kitchen and bathroom with dozens of other people. There is almost no privacy, and you pay a lot of money for it. And if that’s not bad enough, it is also very competitive to get accepted into a dorm. In some cases you have to include a personal essay as part of your application and pay a non-refundable fee, and after all that you are not even guaranteed a room. Additionally, most residences force you to buy a meal plan, which is a few thousand dollars in addition to the residence costs.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that on campus residences only allow you live there for 4 or 8 months when classes are in session. If you plan on spending summers in Canada, you’ll have to vacate the premises and find your own off campus accommodation.
Speaking of the off campus living, the biggest benefit is that you can save quite a bit of money and have your own room. If you’re on a budget, you will likely rent a room in a shared space where you’ll share the kitchen and bathroom with a handful of other people, but you can have your own bedroom. Additionally, if you find a place you like, you may be able to live there for the entire duration of your study program. The biggest downside is that you have to arrive in Canada before you can start your search, and it’s very stressful to move to a new country without having a place to live.
If you live in a university residence and have a meal plan, you won’t have to cook. However at $5,000-7,000 a meal plan is quite expensive and the quality of the food is not the best. If you have access to a kitchen, you can expect to spend around $4,000 just on food.
In addition, you should also budget another $3,000 on personal care products. This includes soap, toothpaste, and so on. You will need these items regardless if you live on or off campus.
Lastly, you should always have some money set aside for unexpected expenses. This could include new eyeglasses, a dental problem, or an unplanned trip back home due to a family emergency.
Additionally, you may also want to have some money for fun activities. Perhaps you would like to take a weekend trip or buy new clothes. Especially if you come from a warm country, you will need to invest quite a bit of money on a winter coat, boots, gloves, a scarf, and so on.
if you have the money, yes it is. You will get a good education, enjoy new experiences, improve your communication skills, and meet people from all over the world. But if you don’t have the money, I’d say it’s not worth going into debt or selling important property to study abroad in Canada. Since engineering is a highly sought-after profession, let’s use that as an example to explain why.
Many people believe engineering pays well, but that’s not exactly true in Canada. According to Glassdoor, the average income for an engineer in Canada is just under $84,000 per year. That may sound good to you, but it is before taxes. Once you factor in the taxes and living expenses (which are incredibly high), you’ll be lucky to have $20,000 in disposable annual income. And that is assuming you live with roommates. If you take on a $500,000 loan to study engineering at U of T, it will take you over 30 years to pay off the principal and interest of that loan. You’d have spent your entire working life paying off the university education. Financially, you might be better off not taking on any debt and working a minimum wage job.
This really depends on two factors:
If you’re interested in learning about different cooking methods, then a trades school is your best option. But if you’d like to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, then a public university is your best bet.
Moreover, if you’re only interested in gaining a well-paying job after graduation, I’d suggest you attend a trades school. For example, it takes one year of study and $17,205 in tuition at NAIT to become a carpenter. According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of a carpenter in Canada is over $60,000. Not much lower than what an engineer makes, but you graduate with significantly lower debt, and you can start working (and earning money) sooner. Lower debt will be more beneficial in the long term than a slightly higher salary.
Lastly, when it comes to private universities, I would recommend against them. Many of them offer ridiculous study programs with zero job prospects. They prioritize making profits over educating students.
If money is an issue for you, I would definitely suggest studying abroad outside of North America. Even private universities in European countries can be more affordable than public institutions in Canada. Furthermore, if you’d like to have a life outside of studying and coursework, you should also consider studying elsewhere. I found my program of study in Canada pretty challenging, but when I went abroad to Denmark everything was much more relaxed. I had time to socialize since I wasn’t studying or working on projects at all hours of the day. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of getting your degree in a European country, check out this article.
On the low end will need at least $30,000 per year to study abroad in Canada. However, more in-demand university programs will require at least $60,000 per year for international students.