Students and Family Finances in Canada

Family decisions surrounding post-secondary education can have a significant impact on the lives of young adults and their families. A university degree can open doors to employment and the possibility of higher earnings for younger generations, and be a step toward personal fulfillment for those who want to expand their horizons.

However, education isn’t cheap – the costs associated with post-secondary education are continually rising and often result in debt that can, in turn, close certain doors for students down the road. Families demonstrate a great deal of flexibility in managing their finances to support educational pursuits and adapt their aspirations to provide support.

To explore this aspect of family finances, the Vanier Institute of the Family has published the Students and Family Finances in Canada infographic. This resource brings together statistics and survey findings to examine families’ thoughts about post-secondary education and family finances, as well as the diverse ways they support higher learning.

  • Average annual university tuition fees for undergraduate students across Canada now stand at nearly $6,400, a 2.8% increase from the 2015–2016 academic year (nearly $24,000 for international students).
  • Graduating university students in Canada with debt report an average debt load of $27,000.
  • Nearly one-quarter of graduating university students (23%) say that debt discourages them from pursuing further education.
  • 8 in 10 surveyed parents with a child in university say they’re funding their child’s education, two-thirds of whom rely on day-to-day income to provide this funding.
  • More than 4 in 10 surveyed parents say that funding their children’s education is more important than contributing to their own retirement savings.


Download the Students and Family Finances in Canada infographic.


Suggested reading:

Family Finances: Investments in Education


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