It’s no shocker: Higher learning comes with higher bills. When the time comes to send your own child off to college or university, you might be surprised at how much tuition rates have risen since you were in school. (For a complete rundown on all the costs, check out Part I in this series.)

Meeting higher tuition costs requires a financial strategy. Here are a ideas that may help:

High School Confidential

Most people don’t know that you can enrol your child in college courses as early as high school. It’s called ‘dual enrolment’ and it allows your child to be enrolled in two institutions at once, usually in high school and college. You’ll have to cover a few course fees when you register, but if the student can get those courses out of the way, it can potentially trim a semester or two and save a lot in tuition.


When you start looking at schools, it can be tempting to jump into the most prestigious school right away. However, starting post-secondary education at a community college before committing to a four-year university program could mean getting some credits at the lower community college fee. For students who haven’t yet figured their majors, it’s also a good way to keep their scholastic skills sharp before enrolling at university.

Consider a local school instead of one located in another province or country. International students pay higher rates and being away from family financial support could prompt your child to make more money mistakes. If your child still lives at home and commutes to classes every day, they can save a lot of money on housing and meal preparation. Since many colleges are closely located to a public transit line, taking the bus or train can cut down on vehicle costs.

Finance Class

For many households, personally financing a four-year degree is not an option. If you decide to take out a student loan, first check which scholarships and bursaries are available.

You can’t control tuition costs, but you can control the student budget by selecting an affordable meal plan, buying used textbooks or online PDF alternatives, taking advantage of all student discounts, and knowing what financial services are available on campus.

When it’s necessary to take out a student loan, decide how much is actually needed and what the plan is to pay it back. Harvard Extension School emphasizes the importance of having a budget in place and borrowing no more than what you need.

Do your research on different lending rates and to weigh your options – don’t just go for the first convenient lender. Loan payments during the school year by taking on part-time employment and applying for different scholarships.

Stephanie Hughes is a business writer and financial journalist in the Canadian markets. Her credit rating and market research articles have been featured in mainstream news sources like Financial Post, National Post, BNN Bloomberg, Maclean’s, podcasts, business radio stations, as well as many trade magazines. She specializes in industry disruptors, technology, real estate and millennial personal finance. You can read more of her work at