British Columbia

5 tips to manage student debt

A recent survey reveals B.C. students anticipate graduating with the highest student debt in Canada. Here are five tips to help manage student debt.

B.C. students expect to graduate with highest student debt in Canada, survey says

Students in B.C. expect to have more debt than students elsewhere in Canada. (Tim Wimborne/Reuters)

A recent survey by the Bank of Montreal reveals that post-secondary students in B.C. anticipate graduating with the highest student debt in the country.

The average Canadian student expects to graduate with $26,297 in debt, while the average British Columbian student expects to be shouldering a debt of $34,886 upon graduation.

Those most affected by the debt crunch are part of the Millennial generation - born between 1979 and 1993 - which forms the vast majority of current post-secondary students and recent graduates.

However, baby-boomers are also feeling the squeeze, often going into debt to support their adult children.

Scott Hannah, CEO of the Credit Counselling Society, shared his tips on how students can manage their debt:
  1. If you are using student loans or have enough money saved to get you through, set it all aside in a separate savings account. Then every two weeks, based on your budget, pay yourself what you need to live. Writing your own pay cheque helps you manage your money so that you have what you need.
  2. Avoid using credit that you can't afford to repay in full. Buying even small items, like coffees and lunches, with credit cards adds as much as 50% to the cost of every item once interest and fees are added on.
  3. Do not commit to long-term contracts, like cellphones or car leases, while you are studying. So many things can change while you are a student; you don't want to tie yourself down unnecessarily.
  4. Being under a lot of stress often leads to poor spending choices, which can translate into a lot of debt in the long run. You don't want to be forced to take time off school to work and pay off debt, so take steps to manage your stress level and spending first. Cut costs wherever possible, identify what's important to you and set goals to help you stay on track. If you do start slipping into debt, deal with it before it gets worse.
  5. Your school's financial aid department, academic advisors and counselors are happy to help you if you feel overwhelmed. Make yourself an appointment and carefully consider what they suggest.

With files from the The Early Edition's Jason D'Souza. You can follow him on Twitter @dsouzajs