Canada is home is one of the world’s most educated workforces.
But a stark new poll from a Canadian education savings and planning company spotlights financial challenges and concerns facing post-secondary students across the country.
The Embark survey found that a degree is critical in the eyes of most aspiring knowledge workers, but the next generation of laptop class is dealing with major financial burden.
Despite 72% of students believing in the importance of higher education for future success and 66% fearing a harder life without post-secondary education, there’s a prevalent financial strain that impacts their wellbeing, academic decisions and overall experience, Embark data found.
89% of students consider education to be expensive; 75% of students find it hard to afford post-secondary education, with more than half (53%) deeming debt as a standard part of the student experience.
Moreover, an alarming 79% felt that the debt they accumulate can be crippling.
In light of the escalating cost of post-secondary education, which saw the average four-year university degree for in-residence students priced at $96,000 in 2022, student loans have become more commonplace. While over half of students accepted debt as a part of the student journey, the average expected debt upon graduation stands at $26,773.
“Many Canadians may not realize that the cost of education often outpaces the cost of living,” observes Andrew Lo, CEO of Embark. “Particularly with today’s economic realities, saving enough money can be a daunting task.”
Such financial strains not only affect the immediate wellbeing of students, but also their academic performance, career decisions, and future aspirations, Embark warns.
However, Lo does not want Canadian youth to abandon hope.
Students in the poll noted how they lean on a variety of methods to fund their higher education, grinding out the expense one way or another. Methods include financial assistance from parents, taking on part-time work, and of course taking on student loans and other forms of debt.
The survival increasingly seems to stem from sacrifice: More than half of students polled said that they have cut out necessities in order to make ends meet. Even more grim, almost as many feel that these financial impacts have a negative influence on their school work and final grades.
Even so, Embark believes that modern financial technology means that “saving for the future has never been easier”—especially when a saver starts young.
For example, the Canadian fintech’s own digital platform for education savings promises a plan that automatically adjusts to your timeline plus expert guidance.
And for those who simply cannot afford post-secondary education in Canada, or otherwise do not wish to go the traditional route, there continues to be an expanding array of “upskill” options across the country which can remotely train candidates for specific roles in tech, sales, and beyond.