A year of school as a full-time undergraduate student in Canada will cost families $6,571 on average for the 2017-2018 academic term, new data from Statistics Canada shows.
To put that number into context, consider this: The average undergraduate tuition went up by 3.1 per cent since last year, rising more than twice as fast as wages. Workers’ hourly compensation inched up by just 1.3 per cent in July compared to the same month in 2016.
But that’s not the end of it. Students are also facing a growing pile of other mandatory fees, which typically cover the cost of things like sports, health services and student associations. That adds up to an additional $880 a year on average for undergraduate student, up 3.8 per cent since 2016-2017, according to StatsCan.
Still, how much individual students will actually pay for an undergraduate degree has a lot to do with their chosen field of study:
If your kid has picked dentistry, be ready to help them shell out as much as $22,297 this year. That’s the highest average tuition fee in Canada, followed by medicine ($14,444), law ($13,642) and pharmacy ($10,279), the numbers show.
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At the other end of the spectrum are degrees in education, which cost less than $4,700 a year on average.
The good news is that only 3 per cent of Canadian students are enrolled in the top four most expensive programs. On the other hand, almost 60 per cent have chosen social and behavioural sciences; business, management and public administration; physical and life sciences; or the humanities, all of which stand near the middle or the bottom of the pack in StatsCan’s cost ranking.
Where you go to school matters, too. The average full-time tuition for social and behavioural sciences student ranges from as much as $6,860 in Nova Scotia to as little as $2,550 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Similarly, a year studying business, management and public administration will cost you over $10,000 in Ontario, but just $2,731 in Quebec on average.
Overall, undergraduate tuition fees barely budged in Alberta (up 0.1 per cent since last year) but soared in Nova Scotia (up 5.5 per cent). Here’s the full provincial breakdown:
And here’s another nugget that might help parents breathe a little easier: Your kid will likely get some help footing the gargantuan school bill. According to the 2010 National Graduates Survey, almost two-thirds of Canadians who graduated with a university degree had received non-repayable financial support such as scholarships, bursaries, government grants and tax credits.
Still, tuition fees are becoming a growing source for revenue for universities and degree-granting colleges, even as the government remains the main source of funding for postsecondary institutions, Statistics Canada noted.
The average cost for graduate programs was $6,907, a 1.8 per cent increase over the 2016-2017.
The priciest degree remained the executive and regular masters of business administration (MBA) programs. Average tuition for an executive MBA was an eye-watering $51,891 in 2017-2018, while the fee for a regular MBA averaged $29,293. But MBA costs vary widely across Canada, Statistics Canada noted, with average tuition ranging from only $2,378 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $11,760 in Alberta, $26,623 in British Columbia and $41,924 in Ontario.
Dentistry had the second-highest average tuition fees for graduate programs after MBAs, at $12,652.
For international students, unsurprisingly, tuition costs are even steeper. The average foreign undergraduate students will spend $25,180 this year, a 6.3 per cent increase from 2016-2017. For graduate programs, tuition rose 5.4 per cent to $16,252.