Every business student dreams of making it into one of Canada’s top financial institutions to go aftertheir MBA — especially since an MBA opens so many doors and essentially positions a student to directly pursue their career options often before they even graduate. An MBA is an investment that pays impressive dividends over time, and offers incalculable benefits including mentorship, real-world business experience, and of course a top-notch business education. But let’s face the reality: an MBA is not free, and while the long-term financial rewards are well worth the cost of a Master’s degree, sometimes some forward-thinking financial strategizing is necessary before you begin your studies.
The cost of attending post-secondary education in Canada is at a record high — according to the government’s Canlearn.ca website, the average cost of a four-year degree pursued away from home is $60,000 while a TD Economics study put the same cost at an incredible $84,000. Despite RESPs, part-time employment, and even grants and scholarships, many students will likely still have to borrow to make ends meet.
The good news is that there are so many options to help you finance your business degree in Canada. Every province has its own student assistance program, and the amount of support they offer ranges from one province to the next. As Ontario has the largest concentration of business schools of any province, it’s no wonder that they have one of the largest student financial assistance programs. If your home province is Ontario, once you are accepted into full-time study at a recognized Canadian university, you are eligible for support from the Ontario Student Assistance Program, or OSAP. This needs-based program offers financial assistance to help undergraduate and graduate students pay their tuition costs, textbook costs, incidental university fees, and the cost of living while they attend their programs. The good news about OSAP is that there is a six month grace period upon graduation before you have to start paying your loan back, and even then, if you are not quite making the salary you anticipated, you can apply for debt relief or repayment assistance.
If borrowing doesn’t seem feasible, every university also has internal tuition assistance programs and, if your marks are good, you will also be eligible for scholarships, grants, and bursaries, which — unlike loans — are prizes you are not required to pay back. To give you an example of an encouraging bursary culture, let’s look at one of Canada’s top business schools, Wilfrid Laurier University. This reputable business school automatically offers students an entrance scholarship — you don’t even need to apply; you are automatically considered, and, if your final GPA from your previous degree is high enough, you will be awarded funding which goes directly to paying your tuition.
Wilfrid Laurier University is dedicated to offering competitive financial support to help incentivize higher learning at the graduate level. They offer a plethora of internal financial awards, including the faculty of graduate and postdoctoral studies scholarships, the Dean’s graduate scholarship, graduate incentive scholarships (which serve as top-up funding to students already receiving a major external funding from SSHRC or OGS), the SBE graduate scholarship in the School of Business and Economics, as well as offering situational support including travel and research awards, and travel support for conference presentations.
If you are interested in perusing a full database of funding opportunities, visit this free online scholarship search service designed to help graduate students find information on scholarships, bursaries, grants, and other forms of financial assistance. This site also offers unique scholarship opportunities to its exclusive online members. If you are a student in business, finance, economics, or management, and you need help securing funding for your graduate — or even undergraduate needs — this site will prove very helpful, providing quick and easy access to information on educational scholarships, bursaries, grants, fellowships, and other forms of financial assistance.
In order to supplement the above funding and support, many students also pursue a student line of credit to help cover additional costs. ShahzBeig, associate vice-president of personal lending for TD Canada Trust, suggests that a student line of credit can be more advantageous than a student loan.
“[A student line of credit] comes at a lower interest rate generally than other borrowing vehicles,” saysBeig. “For example, in Ontario it offers a lower interest than an OSAP loan. We offer a student line of credit at a rate of prime plus 1.5. [per cent]and OSAP is prime plus 2.5.” A student line of credit also comes in handy in other ways. Payments do not begin until a full 12 months after graduation at which time students are required to pay back only one percent of the loan’s principal per month.
If you’re attending or plan to attend business school at Laurier, they have their own contact at RBC who can help you directly in your application for a student line of credit. Dowain Whitely, RBC Account Manager, is located at a local branch of RBC in Waterloo, and knows all the ins and outs of securing you funding for your business school needs.
The gist is this: if you are planning on pursuing an MBA at Laurier, or any other school, be aware of the financial options at your disposal. The dream of attending a top-tier business school is never out of reach when there are so many funding options aimed at helping you graduate. For more on securing funding to help you go after your MBA, visit Lauriermba.ca/financing-your-mba-canada to get all the necessary information. You’ll be glad you did.
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