Soap Box

The price of higher learning

Bishop's College
St. John's, Newfoundland

By Jonathan B. (Grade 12)

For many Grade 12 students, university is on the brain. Along with the usual dilemmas such as 'What courses do I want to take?' and 'Which university is the farthest from my parents?', one of the most important questions facing these students (myself included) is 'How the heck am I going to pay for it all?!'. Not only is this something level III students should be considering, but with tuition costs at their highest ever and rising, level I and II students, and as far down as preschoolers, or at least their parents, ought to be planning for their post-secondary education.

Today, a university student in St. John's can expect to pay between $15,000 and $20,000 for a 'base model' education; that being 4 years at Memorial University, living at home, eating table scraps, and walking, biking, or crawling to class. If that student decides to study elsewhere, and/or wishes to study for more than 4 years, the cost doubles, triples, and so on. So what is a poor student to do? If you were smart, you would have saved up all your ice cream money from kindergarten and invested it in Microsoft. But you didn't, did you? Well, don't feel bad, I wasn't that smart when I was 5 years old either. However, there are some real solutions to your education woes.

First of all, make an appointment with a representative at your bank. He or she can help you chose the savings plan that suits your needs. You should also ask your parents how much they're willing to chip in. This will give you a clearer idea as to how much of the cost you will be responsible for.

Secondly, apply for everything and then some. Scholarships, awards, government grants, everything; and don't forget to write the scholarship exams this spring. The sad fact is that many scholarships go unclaimed every year because nobody's heard of them or they thought they didn't have a chance and didn't apply. What many of these people do not realize is that not all scholarships, etc. are based on academics. Many are distributed on the basis of community service, financial need, and affiliation with minorities and other groups. However, if after counting your piggy bank's wealth and any scholarships you have received, you still find yourself a little short, you can work a part-time job or take advantage of student loans. Though these may not be the best alternatives, they may save you from going bankrupt in the middle of your bachelor's degree.

Lastly, pick up a copy of Murray Baker's, The Debt-Free Graduate. This resource is filled with helpful hints on how to make your university education go easier on your wallet. You should be able to find a copy at your local bookstore or have them order one for you.

Hopefully the tips I've mentioned above, as well as those contained in the book, will help you get through university with relative financial ease.

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