Financial Planning for Indian Students in Canada

Each year, more than 300,000 international students come to Canada with the goal of graduating from one of the country’s globally recognized universities and colleges. These international students have to manage their finances judiciously while they are in Canada.
Typical Student Expenses

Education in Canada is more affordable than education in the USA, Australia, or the United Kingdom. Common expenses for a foreign student consist of:

  1. Tuition fees: These vary significantly in Canada. Tuition fees depend on several factors, such as the program of study, whether or not the educational institution is subsidised by the government, the reputation of the institution, its geographic location, etc.
  2. Housing and accommodation: This is the second largest expense for most students. Students have several housing choices while studying — on-campus, off-campus, or homestay.
  3. Transportation: The transportation fees also vary depending on the province or territory where you live and study. However, all provinces and territories offer discount programs for student travel passes and it is worthwhile to obtain one.
  4. Health insurance: Foreign students in Canada are required to obtain health insurance for the duration of their stay in Canada. In some provinces, public health insurance is granted for international students for free while others do not offer such an option. If a free option is not available, students must buy private health insurance or buy insurance through their university.
  5. Food and groceries: If you plan to live on-campus, you generally need to purchase a meal plan. The meal plan will cover most of your food costs for one fixed price. However, you will still need to budget for monthly essentials.
  6. Entertainment: To plan accurately, you should include some expenditures for recreation in your budget plan. The best time to explore Canada is during the summer and winter holidays.
  7. Study permit fees: To be allowed to move to Canada to study, you have to obtain a Study Permit.
  8. Miscellaneous expenses: Other typical expenses for foreign students include the cost of books and study materials, clothing, souvenirs, and fees for Internet and mobile services.
Earning Income While Studying

When making your budget for student life, you should consider where your income will come from. This may be from your personal savings or from family support. However, there are some opportunities for international students to earn money while studying in Canada:

  1. Working options: International students are allowed to work while studying in Canada without applying for a Work Permit. They have four options for employment: (a) work on-campus, (b) work off-campus, (c) work as a co-op student or intern, and (d) work as a freelancer. The main requirement for the first three options is that the student's Study Permit must include a specific condition that permits him or her to work on or off campus.
  2. Scholarship and grants: There are many merit-based scholarships for international students in Canada. The amount of scholarship varies; it can fully or partially cover your tuition fee and, in some cases, provide a monthly stipend that can also cover your living expenses. Scholarships are offered by the government as well as by private organizations.
Educational Fees in Canada

Education fees vary significantly in Canada. They depend on

  • The program of study;
  • The educational institution you attend;
  • The province or territory;
  • The number of classes you take;
  • The type of classes you take
  • Whether you are a part-time or full-time student

International students generally pay significantly more in tuition than Canadian students.

Tuition Fees for High School

Public secondary or high school is free in Canada for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. However, many high schools charge fees for international students, which can range from approximately CAD$8,000 to CAD$14,000 per year.

Tuition Fees for Tertiary Education in Canada

Average tuition fees for international undergraduate students in Canada rose 7.1% to CAN $32,019 in 2020/2021. International undergraduate tuition fees held steady only in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the remaining nine provinces, tuition fee increases ranged from 0.1% in Saskatchewan to 25.2% in Alberta.

Average tuition fees for international students in graduate programs rose 7.3% to CAN$19,252 in 2020/2021. Graduate tuition fees for international students rose the most in Alberta and were unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

Cost of Student Housing for Foreign Students

Typically, the second biggest expense for students is lodging. There are three main accommodation options for international students in Canada:

  1. On-campus accommodation: Under this option, the student lives in housing provided by the educational institution. Such housing is often shared with other students. On-campus residences are located within walking distance of the university so you will save money on transportation. Living in a student residence is a great way to make new friends quickly, and it is a good option when you are a freshman. You also do not have to cook for yourself while living on-campus, as meal plans are usually included in the prices.
  2. Off-campus accommodation: Unfortunately, some educational institutions offer on-campus accommodation only for first-year students. Thus, you will have to find an apartment for yourself in subsequent years. You can live alone or share the apartment with classmates, friends, or family members. The cost of living off-campus depends on where you study. For example, rent in downtown Toronto may be more than double what it is in Nova Scotia. You also should consider potential additional expenses for heat, electricity, the internet, and sometimes tenant’s insurance.
  3. Homestays: Homestay allows international students, especially those attending high school, to live in a Canadian home as a member of the family. It is an accommodation plan wherein a Canadian family hosts students for a defined fee. Meals are usually included in the price. A host family can offer you emotional support, guidance and assistance during your stay. The average cost depends on the location. In order to be matched with a host family, you will pay a placement fee (up to CAN $250) on your arrival with the host family. There are several organizations that help students with arranging their homestays.

Here is a comparison of average monthly costs of the three types of accommodations for international students in Canada, by province:

Average monthly cost (CAN$)

Province or territory 


Off-campus (one-bedroom flat)



950-1,300 (the highest prices in Calgary)

Up to 1,800

Up to 1,800

British Columbia

Up to 1,800 (the highest prices in Vancouver)

Up to 2,300

Up to 1,200


700-1000 (the highest prices in Winnipeg)

Up to 1,500

Up to 1,200

New Brunswick


Up to 2,000

Up to 900

Newfoundland and Labrador


Up to 1,200

Up to 900

Nova Scotia


Up to 1,500

Up to 950

Northwest Territories 


Up to 775

Up to 1,000


700-1,500 (the highest prices are in Toronto)

Up to 2,000

Up to 1,800

Prince Edward Island


Up to 1,200

Up to 900



Up to 1,500

Up to 900



Up to 1,500

Up to 1000

Transportation Costs in Canada

If students live on-campus, they usually do not use public transit to get to school. For travel locally and around Canada there are many affordable options for students. For local traveling, you can use buses, subways, taxis, or bicycles. A bicycle is often the most healthy and affordable option for local transportation.Though private transport (such as a car) is also an option, it is quite expensive as compared to public transport. Owning a car can significantly increase the cost of living in Canada if it is used as the primary mode of transport. If you plan to use a car, you must consider the cost of gasoline, fees for parking, car insurance, etc. That is why international students typically prefer public transport to get around. Moreover, many universities and colleges include the cost of a transit pass in your tuition fee. In some Canadian provinces and territories, the Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) is available. U-Pass is a group discount program that lowers the cost of public transit for students of public education institutions. Additionally, there are well-known app-based services in Canada such as Lyft, Uber, and Bolt. They offer affordable prices for students and often collaborate with universities to promote sales (promocodes) for students.

If you live away from home and plan to visit relatives, make sure to include the cost of travel to and from home for a vacation.

Here is a comparison of average transportation charges in the most popular provinces among international students.

Province or territory 

Subway and Bus
(for unlimited use)

Gas for a personal vehicle
(CAN$ per liter, summer 2021)


U-Pass CAN $180 per semester (includes bus and light rail)


British Columbia

U-Pass CAN $42.50 per month (includes bus and light rail)



CAN $128 per month (includes bus and subway)



OPUS card CAN $51 per month



U-Pass CAN $271 per semester


Cost of Health Insurance for International Students in Canada

International students in Canada are required to obtain health insurance for the duration of their stay in Canada. In Canada, each province or territory provides public healthcare insurance to its residents. This coverage is free and is available to all Canadian citizens and, in some cases, to permanent residents as well. In some provinces, insurance coverage is also granted to international students, while others do not offer such an option. Here is a list of provinces and territories that provide free public health insurance for international students:

  • Alberta;
  • British Columbia;
  • Manitoba;
  • Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Northwest Territories;
  • Saskatchewan.

However, you should consider that public health insurance does not cover certain types of healthcare expenses. To cover such expenses international students can buy supplementary private health insurance. Services not covered by public health insurance include:

  • Dental care;
  • Physiotherapists;
  • Ambulance services;
  • Prescription drugs, etc.

Private insurance is the only option for international students who study in the provinces of:

  • Ontario;
  • Nova Scotia;
  • Quebec;
  • Prince Edward Island;
  • New Brunswick.

The average price of private health insurance ranges from CAN $800 to CAN $1,200 per year.

Typical Food Expenses
Canada is a multicultural country. Thus, it offers a wide variety of foods and often specialty grocery stores catering to particular cultural groups, so anyone can easily feel at home and cook familiar food. According to Statistics Canada data, the average Canadian spends slightly over CAN $220 per month on products bought in store. Eating-out options (such as cafes and restaurants) are not included in these figures. So if you live off-campus, you should plan your budget accordingly. Remember that many grocery stores offer student deals on certain days of the week, so look out for them.

The cheapest grocery stores include:

  • Walmart (everywhere);
  • No Frills (everywhere except Quebec);
  • FreshCo (in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia);
  • Giant Tiger (everywhere except British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador);
  • Maxi (only in Quebec).

However, students who live on-campus or with a host Canadian family usually have breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the price of accommodation.

If you live in a large city in Canada, you can find restaurants for nearly all types of international cuisine. Eating out is a common option in Canada. About 54% of Canadians eat out at least once or more weekly. The average cost of eating out in a modest restaurant is CAN $15-20 per person. Of course, average breakfast prices (CAN $7-15) are cheaper compared to lunch (CAN $9-20) and dinner (CAN $12-25) prices.

The approximate cost of commonly consumed food items is presented in the table below to give you a general sense of food prices.


Prices in CAN$


Prices in CAN$

Eggs (1 dozen)


Apples (1 kg)


Chicken (1 kg)


Banana (1 kg)


Milk (1 liter)


Tomato (1 kg)


Butter (454 grams)


Onion (1 kg)


Flour (1 kg)


Oranges (1 kg)


Macaroni (1 kg)


Potatoes (1 kg)


Stewing beef (1 kg)


Mushrooms (1 kg)


Pork chops (1 kg)


Corn flakes (0.5 kg)


Wieners (1 kg)


Toothpaste (100 ml)


Tilapia (1 kg)


Shampoo (300 ml)


Salmon (1 kg)


Deodorant (60 grams)


You can find out the cost of other products on the websites of Canada’s major national grocery store chains.

How Much Does Entertainment Cost in Canada?
It is important to take some time off from your studies to relax. Canada has many amazing man-made attractions, but few things can surpass the splendor and beauty of its natural wonders. One of the best ways to explore Canada is by tapping into local culture, art, and history via its art galleries and museums. Canada has the ninth-highest number of museums worldwide.
Canadian museums are included in various world ratings. If you are in love with art, there are many art galleries in Canada, from smaller provincial ones to National Galleries. That is why you also should include in your budget some money designated for travel and entertainment. The best time to explore Canada is during the summer and winter holidays. Below you will find the prices of the most popular student activities in Canada.


Cost in CAN$

Movie ticket


Theatre ticket


Hockey match (NHL matches)



15 per Standard plan

Escape room

90-100 for two players

Interactive museum tickets


Art gallery ticket


Niagara Falls day tour (from Toronto)


National Park visit (entrance fee)


Miscellaneous Expenses of International Students in Canada

Clothing and Accessories

There are countless shopping options in Canada, from factory outlets where you can find great deals to shopping centres, boutiques, big-box stores, and more. Thrift stores and second-hand clothing stores are very popular with students and most college towns have such stores. Their prices can be a fraction of the price of a new clothing option. Below you will find average prices for the most new standard clothes.


Average price in CAN$

T-shirt (Zara, H&M, Mango, or similar)


Pair of jeans (Levis, Zara, or similar)


Pair of sport shoes (Nike, Adidas, or similar)


Summer dress (Zara, H&M, or similar)


Sweatshirts (Zara, H&M, or similar)


Skirts (Zara, H&M, or similar)


Shorts (Zara, H&M, or similar)


Books and Study Materials

The cost of books and other study materials depends on your program and school. Approximately CAN $800 to CAN $1,000 per year is a reasonable estimate for undergraduate students and CAN $1,200 to CAN $1,900 for master’s programs.

Internet and Cell Services

Canada has among the world’s highest prices for Internet services. You will usually pay between CAN $30 and CAN $170 per month for your residential service, depending on your provider and the speed you choose. On-campus housing or housing with a host family usually included internet access.

You should also consider the monthly payment for a mobile plan that begins around CAN $25 per month (without the cost of the phone itself) and goes up from there depending on how much data you need, which features, and what countries you may be calling. Discounts are available from providers such as Public Mobile, Koodo or Freedom Mobile; make sure that you get an estimate that includes all taxes and fees before purchasing a plan. Note that wi-fi service is usually free for students while they are on campus and in some public locations, chain restaurants and coffee shops, etc.

Budgeting Tips for International Students in Canada

Here are some useful tips for managing your budget while studying abroad.

  1. To reduce the costs of books and other study materials:
    • Buy used books;
    • Get the electronic version of course materials such as books and articles
    • Share textbooks with roommates or classmates, if practical;
    • Check your school library to see if any of the course material is available to borrow;
    • Sell your used books.
  2. Use a budgeting tool that tracks your banking information and gives you a detailed summary of your living costs such as Mint, etc. Refine your expenses by reviewing the monthly amounts you are spending on various categories.
  3. Apply for the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). It is globally recognised and offers you a wide range of discounts in museums, shops, restaurants, and even groceries. It costs around CAN$20.
  4. Use the Too Good to Go app that connects consumers with food vendors looking to sell leftover items for a discounted price at the end of each business day. Many famous and expensive restaurants have joined this initiative. For international students, it is a great option.
  5. Visit theatres and cinemas after your classes on weekdays, when tickets are often less expensive than on weekends. Cinemas often have cheap tickets on Tuesdays.
  6. Do not acquire a car: Use a bicycle for local transportation.
  7. Explore part-time work: Talk to your professors, often they can point you to such a job that is suitable for you.
The cost of living in Canada for a foreign student does not depend solely on the educational institution and the field of study. The location within Canada also affects the cost of living as well as the way of your life. Planning your budget can be a key to comfortable and convenient living in Canada. Contact our team, and we will provide guidance for a realistic budget and help you find an institution that will match your budget. If you want to work while studying we also help you to secure a job as well as assist in all paper works. We are here to make your study venture in Canada unforgettable and comfortable!