Majority of students have less than $10K in debt: Poll

As of yet, 36% don’t have any debt at all



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Canadian university students may not be as deeply indebted as we think.

Tangerine surveyed students in post-secondary institutions across the country and found that while 64% of students are currently in debt, only 27% of them report that they owe more than $10,000.

This number seems low, especially when compared to estimates from the Canadian Federation of Students of how much students will graduate with. They peg the average number closer to $27,000.

Meanwhile the latest Statistics Canada data from 2010 states 36% of undergraduate students graduated with debts between $10,000 and $24,999. And that was five years ago.

Student debt-free after just 2 years »

Since then post-secondary education costs have continued to climb. A recent report by BMO states that the costs of tuition, textbooks and other supplies rose 3.1% year over year in September 2014.

When asked how much debt they expect to graduate with, 39% of students told Tangerine that they did plan on owing more than $10,000.

It seems that while many students rely on loans, they are also working hard to save money to put towards post-secondary costs. Around 45% of students surveyed by Tangerine reported that they saved what they consider “a lot” for university.

Accordingly, around a third say that they plan to pay for everything—including tuition and spending money—themselves, while another 29% said they plan to pay for at least half of their school costs.

So where is this money coming from? Nearly half of the students surveyed, or 49%, reported that they’re tapping into their personal savings, while another 53% stated that full-time and part-time jobs are helping them fund their university educations.

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Regardless of whether they’re working, money for school remains a top concern for around 73% of students.

Even among those who’ve had their tuition paid for by family or friends, 25% say they earn their own spending money during the school year.

In general students appear worried about their chances of becoming financially independent after graduation. Around 58% of students are worried about how much longer they’ll have to live with their parents after they’re done school, according to a separate RBC poll. After all, moving out becomes an especially difficult feat if saddled with heaps of student debt.

Maybe this is why 45% of students polled by RBC are worried about finding a job after university and a total of 70% worry whether they’ll earn enough money to cover living expenses and student debt.

Picking priorities: Debt repayment vs. saving »

2 comments on “Majority of students have less than $10K in debt: Poll

  1. So it should be noted that the Tangerine survey only included students from 10 schools, all of which are in either Ontario, Alberta, or BC (and hey! There are 7 other provinces in the country!). The average student debt used by the CFS and other organizations come from StatsCan and the Canada Student Loans Program. What would be more of a story is that only 36% of respondents said they have no debt at all. 15 years ago, that would have been over 50%. In the 80s, that number was 80%.


  2. I graduated last year with about 33,000 in debt, and many of my friends were in the same position. It really limits your options to know that you have to find a job that will cover the loan payments and living expenses, and if you can’t pay any extra you will be stuck with that for ten years.. very demoralizing. Instead of getting 17 year olds to sign away the first decade of their adult lives, the government should consider making post secondary education more affordable and limiting the debt that can be taken on, since all my loan payments could have gone to economy stimulating purchases instead of interest.


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