How Much Will It Cost To Go To School?

“ How much will it cost to go to school? ”

This is probably one of the most common questions we see here myuniversitymoney, and also one of the hardest to answer.  No two people have exactly the same university experience, but I’ll try to break it down for you as best I can so that you can begin the much procrastinated process of budgeting.

RelatedDownload Your Copy of  Our University Budgeting Spreadsheet 

First and foremost when trying to figure out how much school will cost is the question of will you live at home or go away to school?  If you decide to go with the cheap, ‘responsible’ route of mooching off your parents as you continue your education then you have far less expenses to worry about.  On the other hand, if you take those first tentative steps out of the parental nest be prepared to learn a thing or two about the real world.  I should point out that the figures I am using are based primarily off of my personal experience at the University of Manitoba which is one of the cheapest graduate schools in Canada.  The numbers won’t get much lower than these, and could get quite a lot higher if you are looking at schools in B.C. or Southern Ontario.

how much will it cost to go to school
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If you’re not going to live at home you have decide what living options you will choose.  Personally, I believe everyone who is away from home should live at residence for a year (this is a general rule is USA schools).  We will be looking at this specific choice more in depth, but for now let’s just use the numbers from living in residence at the University of Manitoba since this is what I am most familiar with and probably a good beginning number.  Residence fees and meal plans have went up substantially since I began university in 2005, today they are:

Residence + Meal Plan = $5,500 – $8,000

The range in price is a result of single-double occupancy (do yourself a favour, spend the extra money and get a single, the sock on the door routine is not all it’s cracked up to be) difference and the slight difference in specific buildings on campus.

Every university student will need to budget in the following expenses:

Tuition – $4,000-$40,000
Textbooks – $200-$1,200
School Supplies – $100 – $1,000
Extra Fess the university tacks on (various insurance, user fees, lab fees, student fees, recycling fees, field trip fees, etc.) – $500 – $2,000
Gym Pass – $500-$1,200

The reason for such broad ranges here are the large amount of factors that go into determining tuition costs.  If you are taking a Liberal Arts degree at your basic university you’re looking at the low end.  International business and law schools will take you to the high end if not past it.  Realistically at the University of Manitoba you’re looking at between 4K and 7K per year for an undergrad degree, and maybe 20-30K or so a year in some of the graduate faculties.  We will be looking at how to save money on textbooks, but for now let’s just assume the average of about $500.  School supplies for engineers, fine arts, and architecture students will obviously cost more than your basic loose leaf and pens.

Transit Pass – $500 (for 8 months)
Car Maintenance + Gas + Parking – $1,500-$3,000

Every university student (at least the ones that want to matriculate with memories as well as a degree) should also budget in entertainment of various kinds as well as bond money….just kidding…well, probably kidding, moving on…these costs can obviously be cut to the bone or inflate according to taste.

Related – 8 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment for College Students

I was a fairly free spender in university and probably spent around $4,000 a year or so going out with buddies and on adult beverages.  You could probably get away with $1,200 or so, but if you’re below that basically you are never leaving your residence room.

So if you looked at my personal university experience, I lived in residence, took a B.Arts degree for my undergrad, drove a car, and probably spent a little more than the average student on entertainment.  My extrapolated budget to 2011 levels would be right around $20,000 flat per year.  That doesn’t include any one time expenses such as buying a car, computer, furniture etc.

Yes that bolded number is pretty scary, but don’t worry we’ll get you through it.  If I knew what I know now when I started university I would have actually graduated with money in the bank!  So read on and learn the tricks of the trade.

What do some of your budgets look like out there?  My tuition didn’t go up much when I took my second (B.Ed) degree, but I’ll bet any law, engineering, architecture, dentistry people out there are laughing (or cringing) at my figures.

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