Erin Chawla: The Kiducation Learning Curve


How Much Does Post-Secondary Education Really Cost?

How To Set Yourself Up To Fund Your Child's Dream

University Graduate

Up until grade 12, the educational path for most children is pretty clear — to finish high school. Certainly, high school brings some choices — enriched, academic, applied, and locally developed courses are offered and students have some say in which subjects they will take — however, for most Canadian students, the goal is to finish high school. 

The high school drop-out rate has been on a steady decline in Canada since 1990. Most of our kids are getting through, enjoying proms and graduation ceremonies and making parents proud.

But what happens when the caps and gowns go back to the cleaners and the diplomas are safely stored away? What are kids doing after grade 12? Where are they going and what is it costing to get there?

According to a recent study by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, 82% of our kids enter some form of post-secondary education within three years of graduating high school. This means you don’t have to fret if your student doesn’t head straight for more school after graduation. Although it may take them an extra year or two to get there, most kids realize the value of further education for increasing their employment opportunities.

Here are some of the most popular options that may occupy our students in the decade after high school and how much each of these options may cost:


Did you graduate from university? If so, then chances are, you are hoping your kids will too. These days, many high school students are aiming higher than we did in previous decades, dreaming of master's or Ph.D. degrees even before they finish secondary school.

Of course, the cost of university is ever on the rise.

This year, CBC news reported that the cost of university has tripled since 1990 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. They suggest that the average cost for the 2016-2017 year will be nearly $7500, and that doesn’t include accommodation or other living expenses. Times that by a four-year degree, add in graduate studies, and you are looking at some serious coin. Makes me think I better get saving for my daughter to be part of the graduating class of 2033!

Community College

College is a valid option for many students and is the best path if your child seeks for a career in a field that requires more practical training. College studies are more goal-oriented than undergraduate studies at university and offer more technical training. In fact, many university degrees need to be supplemented by the practical training available in college to ensure marketability. Some community colleges even offer Bachelor degrees in applied areas of studies, although diplomas and certificates are more common.

Generally, college is less expensive than university, but there is a huge variance among courses and some training programs even exceed university pricing. Perhaps due to that vast spectrum of costs, proposed fees and average expenses for college are harder to find.  In 2011, Statistics Canada said that the average two-year college diploma is around $21,000. Don’t forget to factor in the evils of inflation, which will quickly grow that number before your child finishes high school.


Even more goal-oriented than a college diploma is an apprenticeship, and these are a wonderful option for anyone considering a trade as a career. An apprentice is someone who learns a skilled trade on the job, under the direction of more experienced workers. Apprentices also complete classroom instruction as a part of their training. In Ontario, employers who are members of the Ontario College of Trades can offer apprenticeships. Apprentices themselves also must become members of that governing body. 

Some apprenticeships are offered concurrently with a college diploma and therefore the fees would be similar to those of college — although potentially higher, due to the added direct training. 

Most apprenticeships allow for some paid wages throughout, although apprentices may face considerable costs associated with block-release training (when training happens in a solid block of time, sometimes up to six weeks), especially if that training requires travel. There are also costs related to the specialized tools and equipment that are needed.

Training in the Arts

Maybe your child will have the dream, the talent, and the grit to chase a career in the arts. Many successful careers in the arts are launched from training in well-respected private institutions such as New York’s famed Julliard (current tuition, $39 000/year, plus $15 000 for a room in residence) or Ontario’s Royal Conservatory of Music (currently $4000/year).  Thinking the Ontario School or Art and Design (OCAD)? A regular 5-credit year currently costs nearly $6500.

Directly into the Workforce

What if your kid decides not to attend post-secondary school? Some will go directly into a job after graduating high school. Some specific directly-into-the-workforce opportunities, such as becoming a police officer, require further academic and technical training once you have been accepted into the candidacy program.  

Although there obviously won’t be any tuition or tools fees associated with going directly into the workforce, it is very common for these high school graduates to opt for post secondary education a few years into their working life.


How To Set Your Child Up For A Bright Educational Future

I look into my daughter’s bright, flashing eyes and I wonder where her dreams will take her. I want her to be able to pursue whatever path brings her happiness and I don’t want financial constraints to hold her back.

Our kids are a varied and talented bunch and the great big world is waiting for them to step into it. One thing is for sure, opening the doors to their future will cost a significant amount of money and the proposed numbers seem to be climbing daily.

Thankfully, there are options like a giraffe & friends Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help worried parents like myself prepare. An RESP gains interest and, more excitingly, the government will also add their support. Through the Canadian Education Savings Grant, the Canadian government will add an extra 20% to your contributions. There are also provincial grants available based on your income.

Here are two amazing facts that I recently learned about RESPs:

  1. RESPs can be used to support almost any post-secondary institution! That includes private institutions associated with apprenticeships, vocationally-focussed colleges and those astronomically expensive universities. Bible schools, beauty schools and the National School of Ballet all made the list.
  2. RESPs can go towards any expenses — food, housing, equipment and so forth — as long as the student is registered in one of the many designated schools.

My Advice

All this talk of future education costs has made me more than a little nervous and I realize that its high time I get my financial act in gear when it comes to my daughter’s future — not to mention the futures of any siblings that may one day come her way.

My plan is to find someone trustworthy to talk to about the RESPs, and to do it fast. I know that I’ll be looking for the following things in a savings plan:

  1. That my personal savings are guaranteed
  2. That the RESP is easy to maintain and doesn’t add any stress to my already hectic (although truly wonderful) life
  3. That the RESP company can handle all the government grants and necessary applications, so that I know we are getting all the support that we are meant to
  4. That there is some kind of insurance offered, in case there is a major change in our health and financial situation that makes it impossible to contribute

Guess what? giraffe & friends RESPs fit all those needs! Phew!

Don’t feel overwhelmed at the cost of funding your child’s dreams.

Just take a breath and check out It’s a reassuring first step in planning your child’s journey, and it is easy to understand and simple to buy without the hassle of banks or financial advisors.

Of course, wherever the parenting road is destined to take you, don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

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Time flies by in the blink of an eye. One day you’re worrying about sending your little one to preschool, the next you’re sending them off to college. That’s why it’s important to invest in an RESP now.

Start saving today with a giraffe & friends' no-fee, worry-free and 100% guaranteed RESP. giraffe & friends helps you sleep easy with guaranteed growth, easy-to understand language, and the powerful boost of government grants.

Visit the ‘How To Plan For Your Kid's Future’ page and learn the best ways for parents to save money, when you should start saving, and more.