How to manage student finances in the most expensive city in Canada
Darran Fernandez is the associate director of Enrolment Services. His staff advise UBC students on financial matters.
What’s the number one thing to remember in terms of managing your finances?
Create a realistic spending plan, including socializing with new and old friends. Often students do not account for life’s little luxuries when planning to manage their finances for university. We want to encourage a healthy balance of academic and non-academic activities so being able to budget for a coffee or trip to the movies in addition to the cost of textbooks is quite important.
Some students take on debt while others opt to work while in school. How should students make that decision?
The cost of living in Vancouver is one of the highest in Canada. Taking an honest look at the money you have coming in–through savings, family, etc.—this is the best starting point for sorting out finances. The UBC cost calculator is a great tool to get some perspective on the money you have on hand and the money you’ll need for university.
Considering government student loans should be your next option. The federal and provincial/territorial governments offer easy borrowing options for students and no debt repayment or interest accumulation until after you complete your studies. This is very different from any bank loans. Applying for government student loans shouldn’t be perceived as a burden – in fact, it could be perceived as good debt – a small investment now, leading to a larger return long term.
Students should consider applying for work and volunteer opportunities to enhance their academic experience. Through UBC’s Work Learn Program students make an income, work up-to 10 hours a week, and gain experience tied to their future progression. Later in your studies, co-op offers another opportunity to gain work experience and make a steady income during a term.
Do you have any other tips for Vancouver students?
For UBC students, we recommend setting up a one-on-one financial advising appointment with your Enrolment Service Professional (ESP). If you don’t have an ESP, you can book an appointment in Brock Hall.
Another item to help keep costs manageable is the multi-zone U-Pass, which you automatically get through your student fees. This transit pass works for the entire Lower Mainland and offers a savings of almost 80 per cent of the cost of a regular monthly transit pass. My last secret is to check out UBC Sprouts, a student-lead initiative striving to make healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food accessible to everyone on campus.