Financial advice to help balance student budgets

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Back to school is always a fun time of year, but by now the excitement is quickly turning into stress. Keeping up with thousands of pages of reading, multiple assignments, and demanding extracurricular activities is tough, but a mounting pile of bills can feel even worse.

We’ve talked to students across Atlantic Canada to discuss some of their top financial questions and concerns.

Madison, a first-year student at the University of PEI, says she and her friends really didn’t know how much everything would cost until they arrived at school. “We weren’t really prepared for it.”

Even students who are prepared have significant financial needs and require a unique plan. Every student’s needs are a little different.

Taylor, a first-year student at Saint Thomas University, says she’s paying for school with a line of credit while working two jobs to make ends meet, while Will, a second-year student at Saint Mary’s University, says he worked out a deal with his parents to equally split the burden.

We know it’s not easy. Especially since school isn’t the only expense in the mix. Students also have to pay for food, clothing, and need to be able to (cautiously) splurge on a couple of their favourite things. After all, hard work needs to be rewarded once in a while.

Allie at Atlantic Business College in New Brunswick says she can’t live without her Tim Hortons coffee and Jonah at Dalhousie wants to know he can have some leftover cash to take a break from studying with a new album or video game.

And let’s be honest, school is not all about… school. Students need to take time to be social and have some fun.

Almost all of the students we talked to are working part-time jobs to not only finance their education, but also finance their entertainment.

The students we interviewed predicted an entertainment budget of about $100 per month. We’re guessing it might end up being a little higher.

Maddy, a fourth-year nursing student at UPEI says she wishes she had known “where to start” four years ago. “You don’t get a lot of information about this in high school before starting university and it’s taken until fourth-year for me to even get an idea of how to do it.”

It’s clear to us that students have one major question for financial institutions: What is the best option for financing my education?

That’s where we come in.

At credit unions throughout Atlantic Canada, we help students navigate the system, find scholarships and bursaries, and decide what financing options best meet their needs. We’re passionate about educating the next generation about personal finances so they can afford the right post-secondary education and create the best possible future.