If You're A Low-Income Student...

If you're from a low-income family, you can't afford to let student debt scare you away from post-secondary education.

For you – more than anyone – a degree or trades certificate is essential. You can't count on family money or connections to get you through life.

Your ticket is education. It's probably that or a lifetime of McJobs.

It'll feel scary to take on $30-$60,000 worth of debt just to start on your career. But the odds are with you, over time. Two studies done for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study show that people's education normally more than pays back their costs, no matter what specialty they take. To see them, go to the Robert Allen papers in the Research Library.

This investment pays off for you and your country as well. Canada will get a great payoff from your education. On top of paying tuition fees and interest charges on student loans, you’ll bring in skills and pay taxes on a lifetime of higher income. But the issue for you is how to get that higher income – or, at least, the kind of job you’d rather do.

You need a low-cost education strategy.

That means you might have to do things differently from some of your friends. Let’s be honest: Canada is great, but it’s not a completely level playing field. You don't have equal access to higher education. So plan for that – don't let it stop you.

Do everything you can to keep your debt low. Student debt will feel more stressful to you than it will to many of your classmates. You’ll feel it on your shoulders, knowing your family won’t be able to help much if you fall behind.

So give yourself a break. Hang out with students who understand you can’t spend freely. See if you can even live cheaply enough to stash some student loan money in a high-interest savings account instead of spending it all. If anything remains on your last day of school, pay it back before they get a chance to charge interest on it.

Go get your ticket. It’ll be worth it if you lower your education costs.

Ask your school, college or university counsellor to help. But even on your own, you can cut your debt by thousands. Start with the articles and many resources on this Debt 101 website!