Six students in downtown Toronto share how they pay, or don’t pay, the bills

The University of Toronto’s tuition fees are among the highest of any Canadian post-secondary institution. When high rent prices, expensive food, and a costly transit system are factored into the equation, one thing becomes quite clear: living on a student budget anywhere can be hard, but students at the University of Toronto have it especially difficult. In spite of this, young people in North America have increasingly been considered poor managers of money, as well as generally shiftless. So how do students at U of T manage to overcome their financial obstacles and get their degrees? Here are snapshots of how six U of T students budget their money.

 

Emma, 19, undeclared ­

emmaFINALYear of Study: Second

Course Load: Five

Annual Income: $2,500

Monthly Income: $100, I referee varsity sporting events.

Monthly Parental Contribution: $0

Monthly Expenses: I spend $325 on rent by sharing my room with my sister. I have a tight budget of $100 for groceries. I bike or walk everywhere I go, so my transportation costs are $5 a month, if anything. I don’t contribute to savings during the school year; however, I do have a sponsor child who I support with $31 monthly.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have personal debt? I don’t qualify for OSAP, but I am not financially supported by my parents. I have about $985 dollars right now in personal debt.

What do you like to splurge on? Candy.

What financial advice do you have for U of T students? Don’t ever get a credit card! The small purchases will add up.

 

Ryan, 22, studying philosophy

ryanFINALYear of Study: Fourth

Course Load: Four

Annual Income: $9,400

Monthly Income: $650, I work at a nightclub.

Monthly Parental Contribution: $550 for rent, $150 grocery card

Monthly Expenses:  My rent is $550 and my parents help me with that. I spend $350 on food, but I usually go over that budget since I like to go out rather than cook. I don’t need more than $60 a month for transportation. I’ll spend $200 on recreational activities and then save the rest.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have personal debt? I received $6,000 in osap funding this year. I currently have about $400 dollars in credit card debt.

What do you like to splurge on? It’s important to me to have up-to-date technology, so I recently bought a new computer for the school year.

What financial advice do you have for U of T students? Make a budget at the beginning of the year and stick to it.

 

Rebecca, 20, studying philosophy and religion

 rebeccaFINALYear of Study: Second

Course Load: Three

Annual Income: $6,000

Monthly Income: $500, I work part time at a fish and chips restaurant.

Monthly Parental contribution: $750 for rent

Monthly Expenses: My rent is $750 a month, which my parents cover. I usually spend $250 on groceries. I take the TTC to get to and from work, so I end up spending $96 on transportation. I aim to save $100 per month, and I usually spend $250 on recreational use. I do not donate to any charities at the moment.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have any personal debt? I am not on OSAP and I do not have any personal debt.

What do you like to splurge on? I love to eat out! And I could spend thousands at the drug store.

What financial advice do you have for students? Do your grocery shopping in Chinatown — it’s half the price. Also, try to avoid going out to eat when you can cook instead!

 

Hana, 19, studying classics and classical civilizations

hanafinalYear of Study: Second

Course Load: Five

Annual Income: $7,000

Monthly Income: $300, although it varies. I work occasionally as a sample food stand operator.

Monthly Parental Contribution: $725

Monthly Expenses: I live on residence — where the cost of food is incorporated into my annual fee — so together food and rent work out to be $1450 a month. I spend $15 on transportation. I allocate $100 to savings, and spend about $200 on miscellaneous spending. Instead of donating money to a charity, I volunteer at a soup kitchen.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have personal debt? I received a $4,000 loan from OSAP these years, as well as a $1,800 grant. I also received a $2,700 bursary from U of T.

What do you like to splurge on? I like to splurge on books and movies, and I recently treated myself to a new pair of boots!

What financial advice do you have for students? My best advice would be to work hard during the summer, and to look for scholarships and bursaries. There is money out there, but it’s not for everyone.

 

Amir, 21, studying human biology

amirFINALYear of Study: Fourth

Course Load: Five

Annual Income: $5,500

Monthly Income: During the school year I don’t work, as it would interfere with my studies.

Monthly Parental Contribution: $325 for rent

Monthly Expenses: I recently moved downtown after commuting for three years. My current rent is $650. I spend about $300 on food. Most places I can access by walking, so I rarely spend more than $20 on transportation. $100 goes towards recreational activities. I am not earning money while I’m in school, so I am not currently saving. I choose not to donate money to charity, but I volunteer at a hospital nearby.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have any personal debt? I don’t have any personal debt; however I received a little over $9,000 from OSAP this year.

What do you like to splurge on? I like to buy new clothes when my budget allows it.

What financial advice do you have for students? Be very careful when choosing telephone and internet plans. Make sure you shop around before you commit and compare different companies to get the best deal.

 

Thomas, 25, studying history and political science

thomasFINALYear of Study: Third

Course Load: Four

Annual Income: $12,000

Monthly Income: $900, I’m currently coaching kids’ hockey.

Monthly Parental Contribution: $0

Monthly Expenses: I live at home and commute from Oakville, so my rent and food are covered while I’m focusing on getting my degree. I spend around $195 per month on the go train, and then an additional $72 on the TTC just to get to class. I’ll spend around $350 a month on recreational activities and try and save the rest, which works out to a little over $250 a month.

Are you on OSAP? Do you have any personal debt? I am not on OSAP. I took time after graduating high school to work, so I also do not have any personal debt.

What do you like to splurge on? I am currently saving up to buy a vehicle.

What financial advice do you have for students? Live within your means. Don’t buy things you can’t afford. And budget yourself for what’s really important.




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