The cost of going to college and university continues to climb as the latest numbers from Statistics Canada. The tuition fees for undergraduate programs for the 2021/2022 academic year have increased by 1.7 per cent to an average of $6,693 across Canada. 

While it is becoming more expensive to attend post-secondary school, higher education is extremely important for students. Having a diploma or degree can help give students an advantage in the job market by empowering them with skills required for future careers and the ever-changing Canadian career landscape.

How much will university cost?

There are a lot of costs to consider when going to school. By using numbers from university websites, Statistics Canada and estimating for inflation, CST projects that by 2036, it could cost as much as $146,000 for a four-year university degree for a student living away from home based on the previous 5 year's average. This projection includes tuition, compulsory fees, books, room and board, entertainment and transportation.

What a student will actually pay for their post-secondary tuition also depends on a number of factors: what program a student is enrolled in, where he or she is studying as well as the grants and assistance a student receives.

That’s why a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is critical in preparing for future education. Starting early and planning ahead can help you make the most of the education savings grants that the government adds to an RESP, which will help boost your education savings.

Highest and lowest tuition in Canada

Weighted Average Undergraduate Tuition Fees for

Canadian full-time students, by field of study in 2017/2018


Field of study

Current dollars











Veterinary medicine


Mathematics, computer and information sciences


Architecture and related technologies


Business, management and public administration


Other health, parks, recreation and fitness


Physical and life sciences and technologies


Personal, protective and transportation services


Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies


Social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies






Agriculture, natural resources and conservation




All fields of study


How to pay for college, university or other post-secondary programs

Ultimately, if you are looking ahead to the future, planning and saving for education as early as possible, is imperative. Having an RESP can help manage these rising costs.

The government offers an incentive to Canadians who save for their children’s future by contributing money to families saving in an RESP. There are matching grant programs from the federal government and some provincial governments, which add 20% or more to your savings in an RESP. Every dollar saved today, is a dollar that parents don’t have to search for when a child is ready to pursue post-secondary education.

In the meantime, there are simple ways for families to save for a child’s future education. Even if a young couple is just starting a family with student debt, saving is still possible.

For students it’s a matter of learning to live within a student budget, getting a part-time job, or finding ways of turning interests like photography or writing into ways of making extra money in order to help pay for school expenses.

Preparing for future education can make a big difference in answering the question, “Can you afford college or university?” Starting early to save for post-secondary programs means families will be better prepared to face tuition fees and the future costs of education in Canada, enabling their children to have financial peace of mind and empower them to focus on higher learning.