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Do You Want To Graduate Debt Free?

Updated on September 25, 2019
Janelle Oosterhoff profile image

Janelle is a part-time student at Mount Royal University. Currently, she is working towards a career in journalism and freelancing.

Six in ten Canadian graduates will be paying off their student loans for the next ten years.

You don’t need to be one of them.

Receiving your acceptance letter in the mail is a joyous moment – you made it! Your head is spinning with a mix of relief and excitement. Finally, it’s time to consider the details: Where will you live? What courses will you take? How will you pay?

With a closer look at your bank account, you wonder: How does everyone do it?

Your university website has a page on financial assistance, where the question pops up:

“What kind of student loan are you looking for?”

About Student Loans:

Canada Student Loans are interest free until 6 months after you graduate. After that, there’s a fixed rate of 8.95%, or a variable rate of 6.45%. (1)

The average student will graduate with $22,000 in student debt.

It will take 10 years and $28,000 to pay this off. (2)

That’s $6,000 dollars and ten years of stress that you shouldn’t have to pay.

Three ways you can graduate debt free:

1. Take classes as you can afford them:

  • Work a part time job – or a full time one. Live like the poor student you are. Each semester, evaluate how many classes you can afford the next semester. This will give leeway when money is tight and motivate you to work more hours! Options for part-time work include tutoring, university jobs, service industry, freelancing, etc.
  • Avoid unnecessary expenses: Are you still able to live at home? Could you take public transit to school? Sometimes larger expenses are necessary; consider ways you could cut smaller expenses, such as eating out, buying coffee, or seeing movies.

2. Work a few years before attending:

  • Your dream job might not be attainable without a degree, but decent jobs that pay well are still available. Think about it, three years of work before university could save you ten years of living tightly afterwards. Options for these jobs include manual labor, administration, service industry, etc.

3. Apply for scholarships:

  • If you’re still in high-school, now’s your time to shine; scholarships love good grades and volunteer hours! If you’re out of high-school, you may still be the perfect candidate for several scholarships. There are thousands out there with varying requirements – see which ones you can apply for at (Scholarships won’t necessarily pay for all your schooling, but they can give you a massive head start!)

It's Up To You

Many of us see our late twenties as a time to invest in a house, enjoy time with our friends, work regular hours, and start a family. When you're still paying your student loans every month, that's not easy. You find yourself saying no to expensive outings, choosing between making a down-payment and paying off your student debt, and becoming a workaholic to keep up with it all.

It's possible, but it's not ideal.

Planning ahead can save you years of stress.

What's your plan to get through university debt free?

© 2019 Janelle Oosterhoff


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