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Read Student Stories About Paying for School

Find examples of how real Alberta students pay for their post-secondary education. Get ideas for different ways you can cover your costs.

There’s no one way to pay for post-secondary. Most students rely on a combination of funding sources and budget strategies to make it work.

Explore these examples of different living arrangements, school costs, and funding solutions to see the many ways you can cover the costs of post-secondary education.

Student stories

Aaron (17), living at home and considering a co-op program

Aaron will graduate from high school and then enroll in a 4-year Environmental Sciences degree program. He’ll live at home rent-free, and work part-time during school and full-time each summer. By creating a student spending plan, Aaron has figured out that his earnings, a scholarship from his mom’s union, and funds from an RESP his parents started a few years ago will cover his first-year costs. He plans to apply for a student loan for his second and following years if needed. He has the option to participate in a co-op program that will earn him full-time money. If he decides on this option, he’ll complete his degree in 5 years.

Jennifer (32), single parent with a summer job and student aid

Jennifer is a single parent enrolled in a 4-year Nursing degree program. With 2 pre-school children, she’s decided a part-time job while she’s in school isn’t ideal for her family. She plans to work during the summers instead. Jennifer researched her eligibility for student aid, and found out that she qualifies for both federal and provincial government loans and grants to fund most of her education.

Darwin (19), Indigenous student with band funding and scholarships

Darwin is an Indigenous student from southern Alberta. He’s decided to move to Calgary and complete a 4-year Political Science degree program. He qualifies for band funding and was awarded 2 scholarships for his first year. He’ll have to apply for funding to his band office for all 4 years of his program. Darwin is researching scholarships and bursaries for next year.

Mikko (22), rural student using savings and getting extra help

Mikko is from a small town in northern Alberta. She is going to her local community college and is halfway through a Business Management diploma program. After high school, she worked for 2 years and saved $6,000. Now in her second year of school, her savings are used up and she’s financing the rest of her education with a combination of student loans and grants, income from summer jobs, and help from her family.

Carlos (18), saving money and keeping expenses low

Carlos is going to technical school to become an Architectural Technologist. He has $2,000 in the bank from a part-time job during high school and another $1,500 from his summer job. His parents have also saved $2,000 for his education. His tuition and books are covered, but Carlos has no other money for the first year of school. Since he’s living at home, his living expenses are low. He’s decided to keep working part-time while going to school, and has applied for several scholarships.

Naomi (23), relying on student aid

Without government student aid, Naomi would probably not be going to college. Her parents can’t afford to help pay for her education, so Naomi is relying on summer jobs, student aid, and a scholarship to get her through a 2-year Social Work diploma program. She’s going to graduate almost $10,000 in debt. She has decided to take longer to pay back her loan, because she plans to buy a car and get her own apartment after graduation. It’s not an ideal situation, but Naomi believes it's worth investing in both her education and her future.

Want more real student stories?

Visit Learning Clicks to find more stories from Alberta students planning their paths after high school. These students share stories and advice on:

  • How to figure out what you want to study
  • How to choose your school and your program
  • How to budget for student life and pay for school
  • How to access student supports and resources
  • How to live your best student life
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