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Will the economic downturn affect you?

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | October 27th, 2008

With the current state of the economy it's anyone's guess what is going to happen tomorrow. People all over the world are losing their jobs, homes and retirement savings, but what about students who might be struggling in the rocky economy?

As prices continue to fluctuate on everything from a loaf of bread to a litre of gas, it's important for students to manage their finances in a way that will protect their financial security and not interfere with their studies while at college or university.

“Unfortunately, it is common for students to not budget their resources appropriately,” said Jason Drury, Acting Manager, Scholarships and Advancement Services at Fanshawe College. “In most cases, expenses are incurred on a monthly basis; however, resources are either received sporadically throughout the year or in lump sum payments. As a result, students require a great deal of discipline in order to budget their resources effectively so that their money lasts the entire academic year.”

According to Drury, the following steps should be intact in order for students to be successful with their studies and futures.

- Create a budget.
- Identify all expenses for the period that you will be in school.
- Identify all sources of income, the amount you will receive from each and when these monies will be available.
- Set a realistic budget that reflects your expenses and resources (worksheet exists in the Money Matters booklet through the Financial Aid office)

Mary Stewart, a Manager at Financial Aid, recommends that “any student who feels they need advice or financial assistance” should drop by the Financial Aid office and should not hesitate to get the help they are seeking.

New students may not be aware of what is expected when they arrive to seek help at the Financial Aid Office.

“They forget to bring their government issued photo ID and their SIN card. They must have it with them each time they come to our office,” said Stewart.

“Students must remember first that they need to apply for OSAP in the summer if they are planning on coming to school in the fall. Also if a student is finding things difficult they should come in to Financial Aid office or meet with a counselor in the Student Success office depending on what the issue is.”

As reported last week, rising prices of tuition costs annually are also making it harder for new students to consider getting a post-secondary education.

“I started my PR program at Humber College a couple years ago, and I don't remember the cost of my tuition being as high as it is at the present,” said third year PR student Erin Law.

According to Statistics Canada “Canadian full-time students in undergraduate programs paid 3.6 per cent more on average on tuition fees in the 2008/2009 academic year compared with a year earlier. This follows a 2.8 per cent increase in 2007/2008.”

Annual costs for post-secondary institutions increases are making it difficult for students to fathom why they should go in the first place.

Attending college or university should be a well mapped out plan considering no one can really estimate what the price hikes would come to.

Students are encouraged to start thinking about their futures at a younger age in order to make for a smooth transition into a more independent lifestyle.

According to the Fulcrum at the University of Ottawa, “Ontario remains the third most expensive province in the country in which to obtain a degree, following only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.”

Students should also keep in mind additional compulsory fees to look out for.

Statistics Canada reported, “on average, Canadian undergraduate students paid $695 in additional compulsory fees in 2008/2009, up from $673 a year earlier.”

The numbers are staggering and students should be well informed of where their money is going when entering a post-secondary institution.

“It's amazing the things we are made to pay for whether we use the services or not,” admitted Law.

According to Stewart, “the Office of the Registrar (which includes Financial Aid Office) will open at 9:30 am every Wednesday. All members of the office are participating in staff development during this period to ensure our ongoing to quality service.”

Better manage your money by being aware of unexpected price hikes in tuition by not ignoring the reality that is at present.
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