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Okanagan post-secondary students dealing with financial pressure

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Okanagan students dealing with financial pressure
WATCH: Rising prices are starting to put extra financial pressure on post-secondary students. As Jasmine King explains, although this is not a new issue for students in the Okanagan the increased costs are adding an extra layer of stress to their education. – Jan 26, 2023

Rising prices are starting to put extra financial pressure on post-secondary students. Although this is not a new issue for students in the Okanagan, the increased costs are adding an extra layer of stress to their education.

“Students have been struggling and this is highlighting it even more,” said BC Federation of Students chairperson, Melissa Chirino.

Chirino says some students have been forced to choose food options that may not be as healthy for them and are struggling to keep up with the cost of rent.

“Textbooks are extremely expensive, people spend 300 bucks for one book in a semester which is odd when you’re a student and you’re not working full-time. Rent is increasing and when it comes to tuition fees, those are also extremely expensive,” said Chirino.

Read more: Fewer Canadians able to save money amid tough economic times: ‘Huge shift and not a good one’

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The BC Federation of Students (BCFS) says they’ve heard from many students who are struggling to stay afloat.

Students at the Unversity of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), some of whom only gave Global News their first name, say they’re trying to manage the high prices.

“I work two jobs so that’s like 25 hours a week just to sustain myself here,” said Insha.

“Everyone’s already stressed out enough and it doesn’t help that everything’s costly. It makes you conscious about like just funds and everything, added stress and stuff,” said Fateh Bajwa.

“I’m very conservative with my spending, just trying to save all the time. That’s just how I try and save money,” said Haider.

Click to play video: 'Housing affordability an issue in Kelowna'
Housing affordability an issue in Kelowna

UBCO students made one thing clear — it has been tough keeping up with the rising food prices.

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“Trying to find food if you don’t always have time to cook, it can be really hard to find cheap alternatives in like fast food or even going to the grocery store,” Annika said.

“I’ve had to cook on my own and the only place I can go to groceries is Walmart. Anything small, even if I wake up a little late and I can’t cook, I’ll just have to go the day without,” said Anushka.

International students at Okanagan College say it’s become increasingly difficult for them to deal with the expensive cost of living in the Okanagan.

“The price to go to a restaurant is like $70 and people normalize it, like $70 dollars going up but back home it’s like five bucks, you can eat a lot,” said Marcus Waytte.

“It’s kind of hard to cope with that as an international student because you have to pay for your rent, you have to contribute in your tuition,” said Bongani Hondo.

Read more: Demand for student housing rising in the Okanagan

The BCFS says they’re trying to increase funding to post secondaries across the province in order to alleviate the costs for students.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to how do we support students on campus and how do we ensure there’s a system available that supports them,” Chirino said.

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