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How much money do you need to study in Canada?

One of the biggest questions asked by international students looking to study in Canada is, “How much does it cost?”

The short answer is it depends – as you can get an education in Canada very reasonably depending on the school that you are going to and where you are intending on studying.

When budgeting for your study in Canada, you need to consider if you have enough funds to support your living expenses, as well as the living expenses of any family members you are bringing with you. You also need to think about the cost of tuition, books and supplies, and other educational expenses.

This article will walk you through what is needed to study in Canada and how you can work while you study, should you wish to have this option.

Proof of Acceptance and Identity

Along with proof of funds and financial support, there are other documents you need to show when studying in Canada. To apply for a study permit, you need to prove that you have been accepted to a designated learning institution. If you wish to attend a college or university in Canada, you need to make sure that it is on the designated learning institutions list. This list can be found on the Immigration and Citizenship website. You can not study at a school and get a Study permit unless the school has gone through a process to be registered to enroll international students.

Your first step is to get a copy of your letter of acceptance from your school and include it with your study permit application.

Your next step is to prove your identity on your study permit application. You must include a valid passport or travel document and a  recent digital photo.

Proof of Financial Support

The biggest concern that most students have when looking to study in Canada is having enough funds to support their studies. Before making your study permit application, it is important to know how much money you will need to support yourself while in Canada.

As tuition and living expenses in each province and their post-secondary schools vary, it is necessary to look into the specific school and province you plan to go to. For example, if you have been accepted to a school in Ontario, you are required to have a minimum of $10,000 per year of study to cover your living expenses. If you are bringing family members with you, you are required to have $4,000 for the first accompanying family member and $3,000 for each additional accompanying family member per year of study.

These amounts do not include your tuition and other educational expenses. You will also need to show that you have the funds the pay for tuition and any other expenses that are required during your study. Again, as tuition fees vary from institution to institution, you must look at the school’s specific costs to know you are able to pay.

For example: You are making an application for a study permit to a school in Ontario for a one-year program. You intend to bring your spouse and child with you. You will need:

  • Living expenses: $10,000 (for the student – yourself)
  • Living expenses: $4,000 (for the first family member – your spouse)
  • Living expenses: $3,000 (for the additional family member – your child)
  • TOTAL: $17,000

When you apply for a study permit, you must prove your funds. So, how do you prove this? You can prove your funds in a number of ways, such as:

  • a Canadian bank account in your name;
  • a Guaranteed Investment Certificate;
  • proof of a student loan;
  • your bank statements for the past six months;
  • a bank draft converted to Canadian dollars;
  • proof that you paid tuition and housing fees;
  • a letter from the person/school giving you money; or
  • proof of funding of a Canadian scholarship.

How much money do I need if I am doing the Student Direct Stream (SDS)?

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a faster way to get a study permit depending on where you live. SDS applications take about 20 days to process, and you may be able to speed up the process by submitting your biometrics as soon as possible and by meeting the eligibility requirements. To be eligible for the SDS, you must be a legal resident of one of the following countries:

  • China
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Vietnam

To qualify for this stream, you must also have proof that you have paid tuition for your first full year of study. You can show that you have done this by:

  • submitting a receipt of payment from your school;
  • submitting an official letter from your school confirming your payment;
  • submitting a receipt from a bank that shows that you have paid tuition fees to your school; or
  • show that the tuition fee amount has been transferred to a repository account at the school that will be applied towards the tuition at a later date.

In addition to paying your first year of tuition, you must also have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000 to qualify for the SDS.

What is a Guaranteed Investment Certificate?

A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) is the preferred option of proof of funds during your study. A GIC is an investment from a Canadian financial institution that has a rate of return for a fixed amount of time. Many banks offer GICs, and you find a list of financial institutions that offer GICs here. Just make sure that they meet the criteria for the SDS.

The following financial institutions that meet the SDS criteria are listed below:

  • Bank of Beijing
  • Bank of China
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Bank of Xian Co. Ltd.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • Desjardins
  • Habib Canadian Bank
  • HSBC Bank of Canada
  • ICICI Bank
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  • RBC Royal Bank
  • SBI Canada Bank
  • Scotiabank

The bank that gives you the GIC must confirm that you bought the GIC by providing:

  • a letter of attestation;
  • a GIC certificate;
  • an Investment Directions Confirmation; or
  • an Investment Balance Confirmation.

The bank has to hold the GIC for you in an investment account that you cannot access until you arrive in Canada. Before your funds can be released to you, you must confirm your identity to the bank. Once you have arrived in Canada, funds can be released to you in one initial lump sum and then in monthly or bi-monthly installments over 10 to 12 months.

You will not be able to apply through the SDS if your bank does not meet the above criteria. 

Special Application Provisions & Advantages for American Students

It is worth noting that there are some very notable advantages for American Students who choose to study in Canada. Outside of all of the great things that are available to students who study and then choose to secure a Second Passport are all of the benefits that this has. It is also great to highlight the following:

Apply at Border: American nationals are the only country in the world that can arrive at the Canadian Port of Entry (aka the border) and apply on the spot for a study permit and have it granted. This is a great advantage as this cuts down on the time required for processing through a visa post. Should all the documentation be in order, this will allow a very simple streamlined process.

More Value for Your Money: The American dollar is strong and things can be somewhat cheaper in Canada. This allows the money to go farther here in Canada. Additionally, with the cost of school here (even with International Tuition rates) it is extremely easy to get a good quality education with top-tier schools that will not put you into debt for years to come.

Easy Access to Canada and Home: Many international students come from places around the world that straddle different time zones and have excessively long travel burdens placed upon them. Depending on where you are located in the US, Canada is very accessible by car. You can even bring your car and a number of things with you when you come to Canada. This allows for not only an easier transition but easy access to getting home with relative ease.

Studying and working in Canada as an international student

These numbers may be scary to some students but if you actually take a step back and look at what you can pay for school and living expenses, it is actually quite manageable. If you consider that you can have a part-time job during school and you can work full time during breaks, school can be paid for during this time while you gain valuable work experience.

Although you must prove that you can pay for tuition and living expenses before getting a study permit, you have the ability to work during your studies which can supplement the funds required to sustain yourself and pay for the things here. Even if you look at a minimum wage job here in Ontario, which has a current minimum wage of $14.25 per hour and there are relatively plenty of these types of jobs, you can surely see how this can be a strong tool to offset costs.

Your study permit allows you to work in Canada as an international student. However, there are a few conditions to keep in mind before you pick up a part-time job.

You can only start working in Canada once you have started your program of study. You cannot start working before you begin your studies or after your studies have ended. Your study permit may list a condition that says that you are allowed to work on- or off-campus. If this is the case, you do not need a work permit to start working if you meet the following eligibility requirements.

You can work on your school campus if you:

  • are a full-time student;
  • are enrolled at a public or private college or university that can legally award degrees;
  • have a valid study permit; and
  • have a Social Insurance Number.

You can work off-campus if you:

  • are a full-time student at a designated learning institution;
  • are enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational, or professional training program;
  • are enrolled in a study program that is at least six months long and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate; and
  • you have a Social Insurance Number.

Some study programs require co-op placements or internships as part of their curriculum. You do need to apply for a co-op or intern work permit if you wish to work in Canada. You may only apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:

  • you have a valid study permit;
  • the co-op placement or internship is required to complete your study program;
  • your school provides a letter that confirms that the co-op placement or internship is required to complete your study program; and
  • your co-op placement or internship is less than 50 percent of your study program.

The number of hours that you can work on a study permit depends on if you are working on-campus or off-campus, and if you are working during the regular school semester or during scheduled breaks such as holidays and reading weeks. As a general rule, you can work up to 20 hours a week during your study and full-time hours during scheduled breaks.

A Final Word

So while it might seem somewhat costly to study in Canada, if you actually step back and look at the Pros vs the Cons of Study, it can be achievable. When you consider the other intangibles, such as securing an alternative choice for your future and that of your families with a Canadian passport, you might find that this is actually a great deal. You not only get a great education but also secure options and security for your future.

Should you have any questions about the costs of studying in Canada or are ready to dive into getting a study permit in Canada, feel free to reach out to us and we will surely get you started to understand the options that are available to you!


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3. Ready to begin your journey? Join our 5-Day Immigration Blueprint ChallengeBy the end of the 5 days, you will have an Immigration Blueprint™ outlining your pathway to Canada.

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