Going to university or college in Toronto means spending those years in a vibrant, diverse city, which will certainly enrich your academic experience! Keep in mind that Toronto is an expensive city, especially for housing, so you will need to plan carefully regarding paying for your college costs. Fortunately, there are a number of resources that can help.
First, you should determine how much money you will need for your university experience. This amount includes more than just the cost of tuition and books. Unless you will be living with family, you will need money for rent, food, utilities, clothing, cellphone/Internet, transportation, and other expenses. Your university or college may provide some guidelines to help you calculate your budget. You will need to add up your expenses and subtract that amount from your savings and income to figure out how much funding you will need. Be sure to include one-time costs, such as gifts for family birthdays and Christmas, and discretionary income. If you never allow yourself an occasional coffee, drink or meal out, you are going to be miserable and probably will be unable to maintain your budget.
Ontario Student Assistance Program
Ontario administers the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), which is both provincially and federally funded, and you may qualify for aid from both sources. This is need-based aid and may include grants, which you do not have to repay, and loans, which you do. You need to complete an OSAP application to find out the amount for which you are eligible.
OSAP is not designed to cover all of your college costs. Since it is a supplement only, you may need to use other sources of funding as well, or you may not qualify for OSAP at all. In either of these cases, you might want to consider taking out loans from a private lender in order to cover the remaining balance of higher education.
Other Grants, Bursaries and Scholarships
You can apply for grants and bursaries from other sources besides the government. These are usually based on need, like OSAP, but some grants and bursaries do use other criteria, such as a student’s community involvement and leadership ability. These grants may be available through your college or through private businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations. You might be eligible for a bursary if you belong to a specific group, such as disabled students or single parents. You might also be eligible for a bursary depending on your particular field of study. Scholarships are generally not need-based. Instead, these are awarded on the basis of academic or other types of achievement. It is important to research thoroughly and make sure that you are aware of as many of these options as possible.
Work and Savings
You or your family may have been saving for your university or college education. You may also want to consider working while you are earning your degree. This can relieve a lot of the financial pressure and should leave you with a smaller amount to repay in loans when you are finished. Working on campus can be the ideal job for a university or college student since there is no commute involved, but you may be able to find work elsewhere such as at a local bar or restaurant. Be sure to look for work that will allow you to juggle work and school and that is not too inconveniently located. If you do have to spend time commuting, you may want to use that time to study.
Finding funding for paying for your college costs will greatly reduce the amount you owe when you graduate. Hopefully the above tips have been helpful.
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