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From The Hip: Out of the family nest – one down two to go
for Smoky River Express
As my wife and I prepare to says bon-voyage to our oldest son (who will be taking his Bachelor of Commerce in Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton), we can't help but feel a bit uneasy about his financial status heading into post-secondary studies.
Sure, we're trying to help him out financially in every way possible, but there's still a resounding ringing echoing in our heads regarding concerns of his financial well-being while taking the big jump from rural high school to the big city life.
Housing accommodations, transportation, books, tuition fees, food etc., it all brings back memories (some not so pleasant) regarding just how difficult it was for both of us to make financial ends meet in college. And now we share that concern for our son, Brandon.
Coinciding with our concerns is a recent poll from RBC which suggests that one-third (37 per cent of females and 27 per cent of males) of first-year post-secondary students expect to have significant debt on graduation day.
And according to the 2011 RBC Student Savings and Spending Poll, most are deferring worrying about it until that time. That includes 44 per cent of female students as opposed to 30 per cent of males.
This student worry is well-founded.
According to a January 2010 Statistics Canada report, the class of 2005 graduated with student loan debts averaging $18,800, up from $15,200 a decade earlier.
In addition, the proportion of post-secondary graduates who owed $25,000 or more on their student loans jumped to 27 per cent in 2005, from 17 per cent in 1995.
“Many post-secondary students are living on their own for the first time, juggling school and living expenses – all of which can be very stressful. It’s not surprising that students tend to keep their worries about loans and expenses on the backburner,” says Kavita Joshi, director, Student Banking, RBC.
“A budget can certainly help you stay on top of your debts and alleviate your financial stress.”
The RBC poll also found that 34 per cent of students say that, thanks to online and mobile budgeting tools, they are spending less cash than they used to (36 per cent of females and 30 per cent of males).
Still, having enough money for school is a worry for many students (54 per cent) – and females (61 per cent) are more likely to worry about their finances than males (48 per cent). However, only 20 per cent plan and stick to a monthly budget.
“Online financial management tools are a great resource to help you keep track of how much you are spending and where you are spending it,” added Joshi. “When you have your finances under control, it’s much easier to focus on what you want to achieve in school and after graduation.”
It's a message which we, as parents, hope will get through to our son as he prepares to make one of the most significant steps in his young life.