Why Pay to get an Education?

post-secondary education, tuition , student loans, educational costs

I had a  healthy discussion today with a high school student about the cost and benefit of going on to post-secondary education after high school.  His perspective was that if he could get a job on a construction site without a post-secondary education he would be better off.  He explained that he would be paid well and save himself the cost of tuition and books.   As a result, financial freedom would be in his grasp long before most others his age, graduated from college or university.  Not-to-mention he would not acquire debt.

That is true and possible.  On a rare occasion, someone will find success without a formal education.  Consider the following, however:  a young person in high school has limited life experiences.   At that point, he/she hasn’t had the time or freedom to learn important lessons yet.   The type of lessons that seem easy at the time but, in reality, turn out to be difficult.  For example, as a student under 18, there are only a few jobs that one can acquire in addition to his/her time spent in school.  Many of these jobs are low-skilled and minimum wage.  These types of jobs help us develop basic skills and earn spending money as we achieve more independence and responsibility.  When an opportunity comes up for a full-time job, with pay that doubles minimum wage, that jump in income will seem huge.  If one is still living at home without rent, the salary will seem inflated.   Not only would there be twice as much income, there wouldn’t be the additional living expenses.  Therefore, there would be plenty of cash in-pocket.

Fast forward 20 years, however, and the person might have a home, a vehicle, perhaps a family and dreams.  That low-skilled job out of high school might not suffice anymore.   The potential for advancement will be difficult without any formal certifications.   It will also be tough to switch into another job.  The desire to acquire a post-secondary education at that time, will be challenging when there are financial obligations and out-of-practice with formal learning.

The student I was speaking with, expressed concern with the cost of a diploma or degree.  He didn’t want to go into debt before he even started his adult life.  Debt can be a scary thing, especially if it isn’t monitored and managed.  It can, however, be a launch-pad to dreams and goals.  In my case, for instance, if I hadn’t taken on (several) loans, I would have never gone to school.  I had a minimum wage job at a variety store and would have lost hope of saving enough money to go to school long before the actuality of it.  Those loans allowed me to earn 2 degrees and other certifications which provided me the opportunity for a career that gave me  so much more;  a respectable earning and a position with meaning .  It took several years to pay the loans off but now that they are, I enjoy a satisfying career and a comfortable life.  It was worth it for me.

There are many ways to help finance an education.  Some of these resources may be helpful to explore:

OSAP, tuition, funding education
Budget for Education

Spend some time and take a good look at the financial situation you are in when you are ready to apply for college or university.  Do you have savings, an education plan and/or a job that will provide income to put towards your tuition and living expenses?  Figure out all that you have already to contribute and then list all of the expenses you have.  Are there any areas that you could cut back on?  For example, if you have premium cable, could you drop down to basic cable to help save some money?   Could you spend less on leisure activities to help save?   You may find if you juggle some things around, you may find extra pockets of money that can help.


Ontario Student Assistance Program, or your province’s equivalent, is a student loan or bursary program available for students.  This is often the most popular resource to help finance education.   It has low-interest rate and a grace period of up to 6 months post-graduation.  That means you don’t have to begin payments right away. You have a 6-month head-start to find a job and build some income to help with payments.

Bank Loan

Ask your bank how they can help finance your education.

Line of Credit

Can your bank provide a line of credit?

Scholarships, Bursaries and Awards

There are thousands of scholarships and bursaries out there.  Try exploring yconic or The Government of Canada site.  These sites offer great listings and links to explore means of financing education.  Many scholarships are not merit-based which means they aren’t necessarily concerned about your academic achievement if that is a concern.  Other avenues to explore include your church, your parents’ place(s) of employment, your place of employment, your gender in the field that you are pursing, your ethnicity or cultural upbringing, volunteer connections, ancestry, grandparents/great-grandparents who were war veterans, etc.  Scholarships are available for just about anything and if you aren’t exploring, you may not find them.  Students have been known to fund their entire education and living expenses because they researched and applied to many different scholarships.  If you apply to 20 scholarships, then you have the potential to earn 20 scholarships.  But what if you are awarded 8 of those scholarships?  That might just pay for all of your education.  It doesn’t hurt to research and apply.

Financial Services Office of the Institution you plan to Attend

Often, individual institutions will offer their own scholarships and bursaries to their students.   Sometimes, organizations will give scholarships to students in specific programs.  See what’s available by connecting with Financial Services at your preferred institution.

Close Family Members

Can any family members offer assitance?  Perhaps you have a grandparent or an uncle, who could help with a loan or a gift.

The bottom-line here is that you need to do some work.  Get on to google or into your guidance office and start looking.  You could be the next student to fund your education completely through scholarships and/or bursaries.









Vicki Noels-Cornish

An effervescent personality with a passion for courtesy,manners and civility. Leadership Consultant specializing in image, leadership and career development

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