Is College Cheaper in Canada?

A college education might no longer be necessary to get the best paying job. However, it’s still relevant, and many aims for it. However, the cost of university education is one factor that’s preventing many from achieving it. So, is college cheaper in Canada?

Whether college is cheap in Canada will depend on where you are. For those in top anglophone countries like the US, it’s cheaper to study in Canada. However, factors that determine the actual cost include residency, course, and type of program. There are also financial implications to studying here.

Regardless of the affordability of education in Canada, there are still other expenses that you’ll have to pay, especially if you’re an international student. It’s important to know all the related costs of studying in Canada apart from the tuition fees. This article fully examines whether education is truly cheap in Canada.

How Cheap is Studying in Canada?

Canada is one of the most popular destinations for tertiary education in the world. Every year, thousands of international students attend Canadian universities for graduate and postgraduate programs. The reason for this massive influx into the country is the high quality of its education system coupled with the relatively low cost compared to other countries.

Compared to other anglophone countries such as the US, UK, and Australia, Canada offers cheaper education. However, since each university sets the tuition fees, there are usually sharp differences in what you’ll be paying for tuition depending on which school you choose to attend.

Factors that Affect the Cost of College in Canada

Regardless of the school, you’re attending, certain factors affect the cost of college education in Canada.

1.   Residency Status

Permanent residents and citizens pay less for tertiary education in Canada than international students. According to Statistics Canada, domestic students’ tuition fees were lower by 5.3% on average and higher by 7.6% on average for international students. The lower cost of education is one of the benefits that residents enjoy in Canada. On average, a citizen will pay CA$6,463 per year for an undergraduate degree, while an international student pays CA$29714. The residency status even extends to provinces and territories. Some universities charge students resident in their provinces less compared to people from other provinces or territories. However, though residency affects how much you pay, the cost of college for international students is still relatively affordable compared to other places.

2.   Course of Study

Another factor determining how much you’ll pay for college in Canada is the course you’re studying. For example, courses in humanities tend to cost less than those in medicine and engineering. The average cost for humanities is CA$5,542, but courses like dentistry cost CA$21,717 and medicine $14,162 on average. For business and management courses, the average cost is CA$6,827. Thus, you should be prepared to spend more money if you’re planning to study a STEM course.

3.   Type of Program

The cost of college education in Canada also depends on whether it’s an undergraduate or postgraduate program. Undergraduate programs usually cost a lot more than postgraduate. For example, the average tuition fee for undergraduate international students in 2019/20 was CA$29714. On the other hand, postgraduate international students pay an average of CA$17,744 for the same session.

However, the cost of an executive MBA here is very high, which isn’t surprising considering that’s the case worldwide. For example, executive MBA costs CA$56,328, while regular MBA costs CA$27,397 on average.

Is College Cheaper in Canada Than US

While the cost of college in Canada is far higher for international students, it’s still lower than that of the US. This is why many Americans prefer to go to Canada for their college education. The average tuition fee for international students was US$22,500 per year in the 2019/20 session. This is lower than what obtains in the US, where the average tuition in a private college is $32,100 and around $25,620 for out-of-state universities. The only time tuition fees for universities in the US is cheaper than that of an international student in Canada is when you attend an in-state college. In this case, it costs US$10,230. For domestic students, college in Canada is far below the cost in the US and even most countries.

Financial Implications of Studying in Canada

If you’re an international student thinking of studying in Canada, you’ll have to consider other expenses beyond the tuition fees. Such expenses include

1.   Student Visa

A study permit is necessary before you can enroll in Canadian universities as an international student. The study permit will serve as a student visa for your whole stay. It costs CA$150 to apply for a student visa, and there are processes that you have to follow before you can apply. The study permit might also include a work permit for some cases for full-time students. Generally, you don’t need a study permit if your study won’t exceed six months.

2.   Application Fees

Students will also have to pay application fees when applying to study in Canadian universities. The application fee will depend on the university and the country you’re applying from. For instance, the University of British Columbia charges international students CA$118.50, and Canadian students pay CA$70.50 to apply for undergraduate programs. International students from developing countries might be able to waive the application fee in some cases.

3.   Cost of Living

Apart from the tuition fees, the highest cost for students in Canada is the living costs. The student visa requires proof of funds of at least CA$10,000 or CA$11,000 (if you’re studying in Quebec) apart from tuition fees. However, the actual cost of living is likely to be more than this, depending on which part of Canada you’re studying in. For example, cities like Vancouver and Toronto have a higher cost of living. So, it might cost you more to study here than in Quebec.

In Conclusion

College education in Canada is substantially cheaper than what you’ll get in the US, even for international students. But it’s domestic students that get to enjoy the cheapest education of all. Despite the low cost, education in Canada still ranks as the 4th best in the world.

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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