How to Budget as an International Student in Canada

Are you planning to study in Canada? Voted as the 2021 Best Country in the World, Canada is a great choice for your future. The Great North offers top-ranked education institutions as well as incredible post-graduate options to stay on and gain international work experience.

Creating a budget is a big part of your planning process and you’re probably wondering just how much it will cost to obtain a qualification in Canada. To help you get started, we’ve created an easy guide on how to budget as an international student in Canada. Get all the details below!

Studying in Canada: Create a Budget

Common Expenses

We already know that studying abroad is incredibly beneficial for both your personal and professional growth. You’ll gain more than just a world-recognized qualification but also soft skills such as adaptability, cultural awareness, problem-solving, and courage. On the flip side, it also comes with a price tag. How hefty that price tag depends on many factors and that’s why it’s important to create a budget and stick to it. Or at least until you find a part-time job in Canada while studying that will allow you a little more wiggle room.

Here are a few common expenses to budget for as an international student in Canada:

Common International Student Expenses

  1. Tuition fees;
  2. Rent/Accommodation;
  3. Food;
  4. Health Insurance;
  5. Transportation;
  6. Recreation; and
  7. Visa Fees

1. Tuition fees

the University of Toronto | study in Canada

Your tuition fees will most likely be your most costly expense. It’s no secret that international students pay more tuition fees for public schools in Canada than permanent residents or citizens. However, Canada is still more affordable than other top study destinations such as the USA, Australia and the U.K.

According to Statistics Canada, the national average tuition fee for an undergraduate program in 2021 is $32,019 and the average tuition fee for graduate programs is $19,252. You can expect to pay more or less depending on the province in which you plan to complete your studies. Ontario is the most expensive province for international students with above-average undergraduate tuition fees of $40,724 and the least expensive province is New Brunswick with undergraduate tuition fees below average at $16,724.

How much does it cost to study in Canada in 2021?

Average tuition fees (CAD) for international students by province
Province Undergraduate program fee | Graduate program fee
Ontario $40,724 | $25,112
British Columbia $28,240 | $20,223
Manitoba $17,099 | $11,558
Saskatchewan $20,636 | $6,496
Alberta $27,404 | $14,683
New Brunswick $16,744 | $12,374
Nova Scotia $19,639 | $21,780
Prince Edward Island $21,093 | $10,278
Quebec $26,147 | $17,689

Choosing the right province is just as important as choosing the right school because the cost of living will affect your daily living expenses such as food, accommodation, and transportation. The most expensive provinces for tuition fees are typically home to more prestigious colleges and universities that feature on the Top 100 Global List such as the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia.

2. Student accommodation in Canada

Accommodation plays a big part in your budget as an international student. The good news is that Canada’s rental market is large and diverse, so you’ll have a few really great options to choose from. These include on-campus accommodation or dormitories, renting off-campus or sub-letting with another tenant, and homestays.

On-Campus Accommodation

On-campus residences for students are within walking distance to the campus so you won’t have to panic about being late for your 8 am lecturers. This is a good option for first-year students who are unfamiliar with their surroundings and it's much easier to arrange a lease from abroad too. The average cost for dormitories is $250-$625 and may also include meal plans.

Off-Campus Accommodation

Many universities and colleges in Canada don’t offer on-campus accommodation beyond the first year and you may be required to find an apartment nearby. The rent can vary depending on the type of apartment, flat, or house you choose to stay in. A good option is to sublet with another person or even two other people to split the rent. Private shared accommodation is around $250- $700 per month.


If you’re looking for a genuine local experience and an inviting family setting then you should consider a homestay. A homestay has a host that welcomes you into their home and offers guidance and assistance during your stay. Homestay arrangements typically charge an initial placement fee of $200 and the average cost per year is $1,150.

3. Groceries and Eating Out

Group of friends sitting on mountain top eating burger. Excited young men and women enjoying and partying outdoors.

Even if you have a meal plan included with your accommodation arrangement in Canada, you still need to budget for monthly essentials like toothpaste and the occasional take-outs because what is student life in Canada without sharing pizza and Sushi with friends?

Hot tip: Some grocery stores and restaurants offer student deals on certain days of the week. Ask about student discounts whenever you shop!

Learn more about the cost of food in Canada for international students below.

cost-of-food-in-canada  | study-in-canada

4. Health Insurance

When you come to Canada to study, you can expect an incredible student experience. What you can't predict is whether you'll have a medical emergency while you're here. And for this reason, all international students in Canada must have health insurance. You may be covered under a provincial health care plan. For example, international students studying in British Columbia for more than six months are required to enroll in B.C.s Medical Services Plan (MSP) and pay a monthly health fee of $75 per month.

In addition, private health insurance coverage is important for medical treatments not covered by your provincial or territorial health insurance like dental and prescription drugs and is usually included in your student fees.

5. Transportation

International students in Canada don’t typically have their own mode of transportation but if you’re living in an urban center or close to your university or college then you won’t have any problems finding reliable public transportation to get around. From Uber to monthly bus passes at special student rates, you can find a way to get to campus and to your place of work that suits your budget.

Type of Transport Average Cost
Bus - Student Pass $128.15
Subway - Weekly Pass $43
Lyft/Uber $8 per km
Gas $1.197 per liter
Ferry $17 per person (one-way)

6. Recreation

snowmobile-fun-in-the-snow | study in canada

Make sure that your student budget in Canada allows you to have some fun too! If you don’t have any plans to head back home then you definitely don’t want to sit cooped up in your dorm during the summer and winter holidays. This is prime time to get out and explore Canada at her finest. The best part is that international students may work full-time during school holidays. So, if you ever wanted to ski on the slopes during winter while making extra bucks then getting a part-time job at a ski resort would be possible.

Activity Average Cost
Hockey Match $88 per person at Bell Centre
Movie Theater $10.99 - $12.99 per ticket
Niagara Falls Day Tour $139 per person
Whistler Winter Pass From $94 per day
Visit a National Park $10 per person or an annual pass for $136

7. Visa Fees

What are the costs involved in applying to study in Canada? Many international students make the mistake of focusing solely on tuition and accommodation fees and forget to budget for their student visa application fees too. Luckily, these costs are a once-off unless you extend your studies and will then need to renew your study permit.

Applying for your Canadian study permit costs $150and there are specific documents that you need to include in your application at additional costs, such as your language test for academic purposes and your biometrics. In another instance, if you qualify for faster visa processing under the Student Direct Stream (SDS) then you will need $10,000 in savings.

You might also consider using the professional visa services of a certified agency to assist you with your student visa application and provide you with options for future plans after your studies. For example, if you study an eligible course in Canada then you may qualify for a Post-Graduate Work Permit. Certified visa agencies offer different packages, so it’s best to book a consultation to receive a complete visa plan. Click on the link below to get a quote from today.

Student Visa Fees
Requirement Cost
Study Permit Application Fee $150
Biometrics $85
IELTS for academics $350
A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) for SDS candidates $10,000
Visa Services (if applicable) Book a consultation

Can I Work in Canada as an International Student?

Another great benefit of studying in Canada is that if you study a course that’s longer than six months you will be able to work 20-hours per week on or off-campus and full-time during holidays. This is a great way to earn extra income and enjoy a flexible budget. You can use your income to save up for tuition or something exciting like a trip to see the stunning Northern Lights. Or even just to grab a coffee at Tim Hortons on your way to that dreaded 8 am class.

How Much Can I Earn as a Student in Canada?


International students in Canada are hired for all sorts of part-time jobs and freelance gigs as well as internships and volunteer programs. Some students work on-campus as research assistants, library attendants, and cafeteria workers. Others find jobs off-campus as servers, administration clerks, and nannies or au pairs. Canada has a generous average minimum wage of $14.25 per hour. So that means you can earn about $285 per week as an international student in Canada if you earn minimum wage and work 20-hours per week. Not too shabby!

How to Apply for a Canadian Student Visa?

Step 1: Apply to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada

It’s important that you only apply to DLI’s that have been approved by the Immigration, Refugee Council of Canada (IRCC) or your student visa application will be rejected. There are thousands of DLIs across Canada that offer post-graduate visa options for you to stay on, and build a career in Canada.

Step 2: Gather all the required documentation

With a document checklist in hand, you can start to collect the required documentation needed for your study permit application starting with a Letter of Admission. It can take a few weeks to months to process your application so it’s important to get the timing just right to be in time for your first semester.

Step 3: Coming to Canada as an international student during COVID-19

International students with valid study permits may travel to Canada at this time. You can arrive in Canada at any time from the visa start date but you will have to quarantine for 14 days. Simply, download the ArriveCAN app to get all the necessary travel information to plan your trip.

What’s the Next Step?

For professional help and guidance, put your visa application in the trusted hands of our student advisors and certified visa professionals. Our team of dedicated student advisors can provide you with excellent options for designated learning institutions that suit your budget and career goals, and even guide you through the enrollment process to obtain your letter of acceptance. By using our services, you will receive a document checklist and we’ll submit your application on your behalf to ensure fast, and optimal results!

Start to create your budget as a future international student in Canada and leave the finer details to us. Click on the link below to start your exciting journey to Canada.