BY MEGAN D’ANDREIS
There is no doubt that the cost of school tuition, along with all the necessary supplies can rack up. Students face enough stress between their workload and personal life that the impact of finances can take a toll.
Julia Cunningham is a customer service representative at TD Bank and a Communications student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She says there are things students can to do prepare themselves for making tuition payments or paying off loans.
Students often jump right from high school to post-secondary and they are not sure how much tuition is, and how hard it can be to save.
Cunningham is thankful that her position at TD gave her the knowledge about saving and paying off student loans, otherwise, she may not have known.
As a student, she knows how many feel in the dark about finances, and may be insecure to ask the right questions. “There needs to be a class about this and more education on this topic because people don’t know as much as they need to know,” she said.
The best way to ensure that finances under control is to be proactive. In the early stages of saving for school, this may mean educating yourself first so you are aware of all options. Doing research on various programs and costs is helpful because you need to make a decision that you know you can realistically pay off.
Nicola Peel, a Sheridan alumni says when deciding on where to apply for school, she was sure to be aware of tuition costs. “I had saved some money prior to starting school from working part-time in high school and made sure to put that towards my school costs,” she said.
In Peel’s situation, she educated herself and saved ahead of time to avoid a loan. However, this is not the case for everyone.
Students have several resources around them to get the guidance they need. If you are on campus, you can walk into the Financial Aid Office and get reliable information. Visiting your bank would be your best option because they can help you put a plan together on the spot, depending on your financial information. If you are planning to use the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), visit their website before so you know exactly how it works.
If you are receiving money from OSAP, make sure you know what exactly you are receiving. If you have received a loan that you do not think you need, the best thing to do is to give it back to avoid spending it carelessly. Or, you can think about putting it into a high-interest savings account, as your loan will not accumulate interest until six months after you finish school. This is called a grace period.
Cunningham says it is important to for students to know how much each payment is and when it will be coming out. “People underestimate how much their payments are going to be and they don’t think about how much they owe,” she says.
The most important thing that someone can do to save while they are in school is to get a part-time job. Students have busy schedules but factoring in a few hours of work per week will help bring in some income that can go toward loans. If you live on campus during the school year, the SSU website provides various jobs all around campus.
In the summer months, students should secure work full-time, because you can make a good amount of money in a few short months.
Jaylen Dawkins, a second-year Photography student at Sheridan, says he has been working as much he can in his time off, to make the idea of tuition payment less overwhelming.
“I don’t have all the money I need, but I have most of it. I have been saving for a while now so paying it back in the future will not be as stressful. My parents also advised me to save so I did, and it was probably the best thing I did,” he said.
Cunningham says at the end of the day, you need to take your finances seriously. “Be wise and smart with your money. Don’t go out and blow it all because you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run,” she said.
Cunningham gave a good rule of thumb for dividing up a pay cheque that can help you save.
Per each pay cheque, you should try to put 40 percent away in a high-interest savings account that will go to student loans or the next tuition payment, depending on what your situation is. That leaves you the remaining to pay for bills or necessities, and some for fun.
Cunningham says a mistake that people will make is they will put whatever is left at the end of the two week period towards school payments. The problem with this is that you may have nothing left after the two weeks, or it might be a small amount.
Putting it away at the beginning ensures that you save a good amount per each paycheque, and you can spend what’s left over guilt-free.