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Alberta students feel heat of rising education costs

Alberta students are the most likely in Canada to work during the summer to cover the costs of post-secondary education, according to the TD Canada Trust Student Finances Survey released Wednesday.

The poll said that despite their strong work ethic, with rising tuition and youth unemployment worries, many Albertan students admit they are feeling the heat.

More than half (55 per cent) feel either anxious (38 per cent) or stressed (17 per cent) when they think about how they are going to pay their way through school, it said.

Also, 59 per cent expect to graduate with debt hanging over their heads with 21 per cent anticipating they will owe more than $25,000. One third (35 per cent) say their top savings priority is debt repayment.

“Earning a post-secondary qualification requires a big investment, and it’s reassuring to see that so many students are taking their finances seriously, managing to save for the future or to pay down debt,” said Jane Russell, Senior Vice President, TD Canada Trust, Pacific Region, in a news release.

The poll said students in the province overwhelmingly feel having a post-secondary qualification on their resume will help them stand out from the crowd in today’s job market (96 per cent), and 45 per cent of these students think it’s vital. While 34 per cent feel practical training at a trade school or college degree is sufficient to be competitive in today’s workplace, 32 per cent feel an undergraduate degree is necessary and 31 per cent feel an undergraduate plus master’s degree is necessary.

But the cost is the major challenge for these students with the average cost of a four-year university degree at $80,000, said the poll.

Three-quarters work during the school year (76 per cent) and more than half (55 per cent) work more than 11 hours a week to make ends meet.

The 2011 TD Canada Trust Student Finances Survey polled a representative sample of 1,000 Canadian adults aged 18-24, including 108 in Alberta, who are currently enrolled or were previously enrolled in the past two years in post-secondary education. Interviews were conducted by telephone between June 28 and July 7.
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