How to Study in Canada on a Budget: A Guide for International Students 

Studying in a new land can be expensive if finances are not managed accordingly, especially for students. You need to single-handedly manage your living expenses, groceries, utility bills, transportation charges along with university fees. Naturally, you get overwhelmed with these expense lists and your lack of financial knowledge makes you drain your pocket quite faster. This leads to financial struggle and mental depression in the upcoming time, ultimately failing you in fulfilling your study-abroad dream.   

Canada can be an expensive country if you don’t get your math straight. Smart financial planning along with a fixed income can put ease in your purse leading you to a peaceful life in a foreign land.  

To help you get your budget in line and smartly manage your finances, we will share a few tips that will help you while studying in Canada. 

Tip #1: Choose Your Program & University Wisely 

Selecting the right programme and university can be a critical factor in managing your finances effectively. Different programmes have different tuition fees that depend on the level of education, duration, reputation and demand. Professional courses like engineering & medicine are quite expensive compared to humanities, science and management programmes. Furthermore, different universities have different fee structures that depend on their ranking, location, & facilities. Universities in Toronto & Vancouver can cost a bit more than those in small-town areas. Hence, you must do comprehensive research and compare the tuition fees before applying to any universities in Canada. 

Tip #2: Apply for Scholarships & Financial Aid 

Whenever you are thinking of going to foreign countries for higher education, always look for scholarship opportunities offered by either the country or the institution. Scholarships or financial grants are a great way to save up huge sums on tuition fees. You can avail scholarships based on your academic merit, financial requirements, community involvement or some other criteria set by the issuing institution. Most scholarships in Canada cover tuition fees while few other also includes living expenses. Additionally, you can use portals like scholarshipcanada or EduCanada to check your eligibility to avail of the scholarship. This will save 90% of your study-abroad budget and help you to pursue your passion. 

Tip #3: Plan Your Budget and Track Your Expenses

With the selection of programmes and preferred universities along with securing a good scholarship, it is time to start planning your budget & track your expenses while studying in Canada. Nurturing the habit of tracking daily expenses can help you to plan your budget early and avoid overspending.  

Before venturing into the country, you should have a rough estimate of how much money you will need for your tuition fees, living expenses, travel costs, health insurance, supplies and other miscellaneous costs.  

To help you with your budget tracking you can use tools like Mint or YNAB. Moreover, apps like Numbeo or Expatistan will help you compare the living costs of multiple Canadian cities and give you an estimate of the expenses. Do remember, always plan your budget ahead to refrain from entering a financial crisis. 

Tip #4: Save Money on Accommodation 

One of the biggest mediums of expense for international students is accommodation. In the long run, students often fail to maintain their accommodation expenses due to insufficient knowledge and lack of research.  

You may have to spend anywhere from $500 CAD to $1500 CAD monthly on rent. To tackle this situation and lower your accommodation expenses, you can opt for on-campus housing, homestay, shared rooms or PG. Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each option and also consider the location, and distance from the university. Additionally, besides paying the rent you also must bear the complementary expenses like grocery bills, utility bills, electricity bills and maintenance charges. 

Tip #5: Save Money on Food & Travel 

Fooding is one of the primary concerns among students as everyone’s food preference differs. You may have to spend around $200 CAD to $500 CAD on food and hence need to plan your food charges accordingly. Interestingly, you can buy each month’s groceries to cook food at home rather than eating out every day. Buy groceries in bulk or on sale and remember to use coupons or discounts.  

If you are residing far from your university then you need to spend around $50 CAD to $200 CAD for transportation. To save this money, you can buy a bicycle or opt for carpooling. Saving on transportation can have a huge impact on managing your monthly expenses. 


Managing your expenses in a foreign land can seem challenging at first. However, with each passing moment, you will adapt to the environment and learn new tricks to save your pocket. However, if you are new to the country, then you can follow these few tips that will reduce a great deal of financial burden from your shoulders. All the best! 

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