How to Save Money » Debt

Finish college without student loan debt

With tuition prices increasing each year, going to college or university can be expensive. This can also be the same time that young adults move out on their own, increasing the costs even more. While getting a student loan can help pay for these expenses, with proper planning and saving money wherever possible, you can get through your higher education without student loan debt.

Canadian government programs

The best way to avoid student loan debt is likely with a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Of course, this is something that was hopefully set up by your parents, but if not you could set one up for yourself. You can contribute to an RESP up until the age of 21, though the grant money stops the year after the beneficiary turns 17. So if you turned 17 this year, you can make a contribution and get a 20% Canada Education Savings Grant. Even if you missed out on the grant time frame, you could take advantage of the tax-free growth, especially if you plan to work for a couple of years before going to college.

If you’ve been contributing to an RRSP, another option is to withdraw up to $20,000 under the Lifelong Learning Plan. You do have to pay back this money that you’ve borrowed from your RRSP, but you don’t incur any interest, just the lost opportunity for gains in your RRSP.

Textbooks and school supplies

You can buy used textbooks through posting on school boards and through sites like craigslist and Kijiji. When it comes to saving money on school supplies, take advantage of flyer deals, and have a look at Costco and dollar stores for some great prices.

Food expenses

Reduce your food expense by staying away from restaurants and going to the grocery store instead. Not only is this cheaper, but it is likely healthier as well. Save money on groceries by shopping the weekly sales and buying the store brans as often as possible.

Utility bills

Check with your providers as they may have special student plans and rates. If previously listed 10 ways each to save money on electricity bills, water bills, heating bills, and cable TV bills.


While you should try to avoid the expensive name brand clothing, though you can often get some good prices on top brands through outlet stores and warehouse clubs. You can also make your clothes last longer by washing less often, using cold water and hanging your clothes to dry.

By saving in advance and living frugally during school, you can definitely finish college without student loan debt!


  1. mckeagan

    We started RESP’s for the kids before we even brought them home from the hospital. With the cost of secondary education so high, I’m sure they will still need to work, but it will definitely help. There are some good tips here. Thanks.

  2. Echo

    One of the biggest savings for post secondary students would be to share accommodations. Having 2 or 3 roomates can cut down on the rent, utilities, food, and even transportation costs.

    Tough to rent a $1000/month basement suite as a 19 year old student. Sacrifice some personal time and space and save yourself some money.

  3. Forest

    When I lived in Quebec I was shocked at home cheap it was for a student to go to Uni (if they was a Quebec resident). Even international student fees were not out of this world…. Basically I can well see if possible for a Canadian to graduate without debt…. USA and UK, a different story!

  4. Andrew

    These are some great tips. It’s crazy how expensive college has become.

    Have you seen that recent chart going around showing how much higher tuition costs have risen vs. food costs and other ways of measuring inflation? I’m hoping this is a bubble soon to burst!

  5. Nick

    I wish more people (me included) went into college with the goal (and a plan) to come out student-loan-debt free. I came out with less than one-year salary worth, but it’s been six years and my blood boils every time I hear the words “Sallie” or “Mae.”

  6. hanif

    It’s really nice information regarding student finance. Because of these type of student loan lots of students getting quality study. I also found one of the site where regarding student loan and consolidation some quality information available. You may visit which

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