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The International Student’s Financial Guide

Written by CNN Team

Are you wondering what to expect when you study in Canada? This international student’s financial guide can help!

In Canada, paying for university or college is expensive. However, it is even more pricey for international students because there are additional costs. When it comes to finances in Canada, there are ways to ease that burden. This international student’s financial guide aims to equip you with information, tips, and services that can help lower that financial stress.

Student Financial Assistance 

As an international student, you may qualify for financial assistance. Keep in mind that many of these options have strict eligibility criteria. 

Are you seeking scholarships for international students? Organizations within or outside of Canada can offer bursaries, scholarships, and grants. These three options do not have to be paid back when you are finished completing your studies. StudentAwards is a great place to begin your search. There is also Canada’s Luckiest Newcomer and Canada’s Luckiest Student to apply for!

If you still need assistance, then you may need to consider student loans. This type of financial assistance will need to be paid back once you complete your studies. 

Financial assistance can also be found on-campus or through your school, so it is important to connect with your school’s Financial Aid Office for more information. 

Banking Basics

Set up a Canadian bank account before you arrive in Canada, so it is one less thing for you to worry about. Before you agree to anything, research and compare your best options. Find out which bank offers no account fees and free e-transfers. Some banking accounts include reward programs that can be highly beneficial as a student. 

Credit Scores

A credit score is a calculation that determines your ability to pay off debts, and it is important in Canada. Banks, phone providers, landlords, etc. rely on your credit score to decide whether or not they can trust you to make payments. Having a bad credit score (or none at all) can negatively impact your ability to rent property or even get a phone plan. Therefore, it is best to begin building your credit score right away to make your life easier. An ideal place to start is by obtaining and using a credit card.

Student Budgeting Tips

Yes, you need to buy groceries and pay off your student loans. However, you still have to pay rent and bills. There are many ways to properly budget your money to make your dollar stretch further. 

Basically, you cannot permit any impulse buying. This means you don’t need whatever is new and in right now. There is no reason to purchase that $80 sweater that is going to be out of style in a year, and you should not be purchasing coffee everyday when you can make it at home for much cheaper and bring it in a travel mug. 

It also means avoiding take-out options in favour of meal planning. By preparing your meals in advance, you can have extra food prepared for lunches and dinners that make cooking simpler. For more budgeting tips, check out 4 Budgeting Tips for Beginners in Their 20s

Working While Studying

If you are working part-time to pay for your education, you are not alone. Many students do this to pay off their student loans quicker or to be able to afford rent. It is essential to remember why you are in Canada: to study! So make sure that the job you take on allows you time to focus on school. Balance is key.

Some schools have on-campus part-time positions that are flexible. Additionally, there are research positions and opportunities to work with professors that can pay, provide experience, and be flexible with your schedules. To seek out these opportunities, check in with your professors and your program department.

Canadian Tax Returns

Lastly, some international students are required to file their tax returns. This will depend on your residency status in Canada. International students are considered to be either a:

  • Resident
  • Non-Resident
  • Deemed Resident
  • Deemed Non-Resident

To find out if you need to file your taxes here, visit the Government of Canada website for more information.

Final Thoughts

Paying for postsecondary education is not easy. Hopefully this international student’s financial guide helps you to navigate through the financial stress of university or college life in Canada. Best of luck!

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.