I still remember sitting in the classroom of one of my twelfth-grade teachers as he wrote the average cost of tuition, books, residence, food, gas, etc. for those in their first year of university on the board. We all felt pretty overwhelmed when we added up the total cost, yet at the same time, we knew what an important discussion it was to have! Then I went on to spend about 7 and a half years in university and was fortunate to have scholarship money, extremely supportive parents, part-time jobs, and wise budgeting skills to assist with managing finances along the way.
I am writing this article to help future post-secondary students out with thinking through their finances carefully. So let’s dive in and talk about the main expenses to cover during your first year of post-secondary education. We will tally up all of the expenses in the end so that we can see what the approximate daily cost of living is for an undergraduate student in Nova Scotia in 2022/2023. Also, keep in mind that international students pay double the tuition of domestic students!
1.) Let’s first talk about tuition. Tuition fees are different for various provinces; Nova Scotia actually has the highest tuition rates for undergraduate students in all of Canada. According to the annual Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs Survey administered to Canadian post-secondary students (Statistics Canada, 2022), undergraduate students in Nova Scotia pay 36.5 percent more for tuition, as compared to the national average.
Tuition Cost Per Year Broken Down for an Undergraduate in Nova Scotia (2022/2023)
$ 9, 328 (average tuition cost per year in 2022) / 2 terms = $ 4, 664 per term
$ 4, 664 per term/ 4 months in a term = $ 1, 166 per month
$ 1, 166 per month/ 4 weeks in a month
= $ 291. 50 a week / 7 days in a week
= $ 41.64 a day for tuition on average as a post-secondary student in Nova Scotia (2022/2023)
2.) Now let’s look at the average cost of residence and meals in a Nova Scotian University.
I attended Mount Saint Vincent University, so I am choosing to use the 2022/2023 tuition rates posted on their website for our average cost. Of course, some students may choose to live off campus where they may or may not find cheaper living accommodations, depending on the location and number of people they are living with. The cost to live in the main first-year residence, called Assisi, per term is $ 2, 983.50. However, notice in the chart below that you must also purchase the meal plan if living in this residence. Assisi has mostly single-person dorm rooms and some double rooms, therefore students are without the ability to make their own food regularly. So we will add the cost of food in, which is $4, 584 for both terms (all year).
Daily Cost of Residence Per Day for NS Undergraduate
$ 2, 983.50 Cost of residence per term / 4 months in a term
= 745. 88 Cost of residence per month/ 4 weeks in a month
= 186.47 Cost of residence per week/7 days in a week
Daily Cost of Residence= $ 26. 64 per day
Daily Cost of Food Per Day for NS Undergraduate (if living in residence)
$4, 584 Cost of meal plan for both terms (all year)/ 8 months approx.
= $ 573 per month
$573/ 30 days approx per month= Approximately 19 dollars a day for food
Daily Cost of Textbooks Per Day for NS Undergraduate
3.) Moving on to the cost of textbooks! The costs of texts needed will vary widely. After consulting multiple websites, students nowadays should expect to spend between $ 600-1000 on textbooks per year (e.g. Hanson, 2022). So let’s go with a textbook cost of $ 800 dollars per year in our estimation.
$ 800 a year /8 months approx.
= $ 100 a month/ approx. 30 days per month
= $ 3.33 a day for the cost of books (This amount doesn’t sound bad at all until you start factoring in all your other expenses per day, as a student, especially…Every little bit adds up.)
4.) Then after accounting for all of your main expenses (the necessities), you’ll think of personal maintenance expenses (hygiene, self-care products, clothing). You will also need to budget money for your extracurriculars, hobbies, special occasions, spending time with friends and family members, etc…
5.) So, let’s wrap this up and see what the average daily cost of living is for a post-secondary undergraduate student attending a Nova Scotian institution in 2022/2023.
Daily Cost of Living for an Undergraduate Student in Nova Scotia (2022/2023)
|Cost of Tuition Per Day||$ 41.64|
|Cost of Residence Per Day||$ 26. 64|
|Cost of Food Per Day (Meal Plan)||$ 19.00|
|Cost of Books Per Day||$ 3.33|
|Cost of Personal Maintenance and FUN Per Day||How much can you spare monthly when budgeting?|
|Total Estimation of Daily Cost:||$ 90. 61 a day! (without accounting for any extra spending on personal maintenance, extracurricular or special events)|
Therefore, of course, most students need to work part-time or even full-time jobs while attending university or college and/or apply for student loans or a line of credit. Some students are lucky to obtain renewable scholarships and some are even granted scholarships that pay for their entire tuition cost (residence is sometimes covered too).
As a follow-up to this, in my next blog post, I will share some tips for future and current post-secondary students for managing finances.
Hanson, M. (2022, July 15). Average cost of college textbooks. Education Data Initiative. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college-textbooks
Mount Saint Vincent University. (2023, n.d.). Residence life fees. https://www.msvu.ca/campus-life/residence-life-at-the-mount/residence-life-fees/
Statistics Canada. (2022, September 7). Tuition fees for degree programs, 2022/2023. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220907/dq220907b-eng.htm