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CAN YOU AFFORD TO GO AWAY?

A photo of yasmin0293 yasmin0293
I'm having a major dilemma here. I got accepted to all the universities I applied to (Western, York, Ottawa) for Poli Sci/ International Relations, and my top two choices are McGill or U of T. I really, really, really want to go to McGill, HOWEVER, my family cannot help me out at all financially; and although I can get OSAP, no problem, I don't want to be up to my ass in debt. To top it off McGill isn't a cheap school, from what I understand, damn those out-of-province tuition fees :/ If I go to McGill, I'll spend $56,000 in total. Not to mention the fact that I want to go to law school afterwards, and that isn't cheap either. If I go to U of T, I can live at home, and basically only pay for my tuition and books. Seems like an easy decision right? However, I keep hearing if you leave home, you get the "university experience", which is pretty much lacking at a commuter school like U of T. So, be smart, save a ton of money, OR follow my dreams and incur a huge amount of debt? I NEED HELP GUYS, ANY COMMENTS APPRECIATED :)
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A photo of StudentAtStPats StudentAtStPats
Sounds like a guy in need of a lottery win. ;) I don't really know about these things, but maybe you can work for a year or two until you enroll. Don't forget to study tho!
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A photo of Bossofbosses Bossofbosses
It's undergraduate studies...You make the university, not the university makes you.
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A photo of Emaad13 Emaad13
Honestly, if cost plays such a major factor in your decision, choose U of T. Yes, it is definitely not as fun and lively as McGill. McGill has a great "university experience" but it doesn't mean that the UofT experience is terrible, just not as good as McGill. If I were you, I would choose U of T, save the money (because it plays a major role in your decision). You can always go to law school in McGill (much cheaper than UofT's law school).

If you don't mind the debt/cost, go to McGill...but again, U of T is a great school, and the university experience is definitely unique, despite not being as fun as McGill, and you save TONS of money!
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A photo of Zion Zion
What are you factoring in for living costs at McGill? Montreal is a much, much cheaper city than Toronto. That could balance it out a bit. Most students live off campus after first year, so think about apartment expenses and whatnot.
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A photo of Fawlkes Fawlkes
I understand where you're coming from, I wasn't sure I would be able to afford to go away either. I've done my research though,and it seems managable.
You have to remember that not all OSAP money is a loan, some of it will be grants, so that is a big help. Also, don't forget about the new Loan Forgivness Program. If you take a loan from OSAP, you only have to pay back $7500 (plus interest) every year you take a loan. Assuming you would be able to work to cover any costs the OSAP loan wouldn't cover, you would be left with $30,000 (plus interest) in debt.
Now, remember, you can work during the school year, in fact you may qualify for a work study program. At the moment I work at Tim Hortons and it is very managable as they split week night shifts in half, so I only work either 4-7 or 7-11 leaving me time for studying or hanging out or whatever I need to do. Weekends I only have to work one 8 hour shift. Now, I usually work more than that, but its pretty flexible. So while I only have to work about 14 hours a week (actually I work closer to 25, but you don't have to) I make at least $500 a month and have plenty of time for other things. I know people are hesitant about part time work sometimes, but you don't have to be. There are places out there that are very flexible so work will not take over your life.
And don't forget about summer jobs! Summers between university years are longer and you could very reasonably expect to make AT LEAST $3000 at a summer job.
In addition, apply for a bursary. Most universities have pretty good bursary programs, and there is extra money available to out of province students.
Finally, talk to your family again. While they may not have the money to help you pay for your education, you may be able to work something out with them. I mean, there are costs for you living at home to. You are one more mouth to feed, so that of course costs money. Not to mention money they spend on gas when you get a ride anywhere, electricity you use when you turn your bedroom light on or take a shower. Ask them to think about how much thier utility and food costs will be cut if you were to go away and ask them if they might give a portion of the savings to you to help cover your living costs. Even if it is only $50 or $100 a month, something is better than nothing.
Though family finances are tight, it was really important to my dad that I at least had the oportunity to go away. He commuted to UofT and he says that to this day it is one of his biggest regrets. He said that commuting really limited his ablity to get involved and feel conected to the school. He ended up dropping out in fourth year, just one credit shy of his degree and he maintains that he did so because he stopped caring because he felt like he went to school but wasn't getting anything out of it.
So lets assume for a minute that you go to McGill and its going to cost you $56,000. Per year that is $14,000. Now lets that between scholarships, bursaries and awards you get $3000. And you get a part time job during the year, making $500 a month. Over an 8 month school year that is $4000. Throw in $3000 for summer savings. Now lets suppose you qualify for about the same OSAP funding I did. Thats about $1300 in grants and $10,000 in loans. Taking the grant brings you down to $2700 in loans per year. Over four years that is $10800. At an interest rate of 3.5% you could have to loans paid off in two years with monthly payments of $487.
I'm not saying that is what you should do, I'm just saying that you should really do your research and find out what is available to you before you make your choice. Break it down. $56000 is a big number, but when taking everything into consideration, you may find it quite managable.
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A photo of yasmin0293 yasmin0293
@ Fawlkes
Thanks so much for all the information! That break-down was extremely helpful; i'll be sure to do my research :)
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A photo of Jihyen Jihyen
It was the same for me.
McGill was my top choice, but it nearly cost me triple than if I attended Western.
Some people say follow where your heart tells you, but you can't really take out the financial factor.
I want to go to med school, and that will also cost me a lot.
I'm going to Western and live with my family.

Both McGill and Toronto are very good schools
and like people told me, you can't make a wrong decision out of those.
People say a lot about university life,
but you can enjoy everything(except the rez) through clubs and activities.

Hope you make a good decision!
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A photo of poeticallydemented poeticallydemented
Honestly, go to McGill. It sounds like it's where you want to be and where you're going to get the most out of everything. What's the point of saving the money if you're just going to be dragging your feet to U of T every day? You don't want that and I'm sure no one else does. The money is manageable as long as you understand that a) you're going to have to pay it back and are going to have to be working when you're not studying b) you're going to have to give up certain luxuries c)you're looking at being in debt. As long as you're okay with those things, you'll be fine.

If you got into your dream school, don't let something like money stop you, or you'll be kicking yourself for the rest of your life.
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