How much does it cost to study in Canada?

If you're looking for a world-class education at a fraction of the cost, look no further than Canada. With internationally respected universities and colleges, the Great White North offers a wealth of opportunities for students from around the globe.

In fact, Canadian education is consistently ranked among the best in the world, with four Canadian schools in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 

With tuition rates averaging a fraction of those in the United States and United Kingdom, Canada is also an affordable option. If you’re considering studying in Canada, however, you’ll first need to take into account certain factors which may affect your tuition costs and living expenses.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with an overview of the expenses that you are likely to encounter when studying in Canada.

Tuition fees

In general, Canadian universities offer more affordable tuition fees than institutions in similar countries. Costs also vary depending on the study program you’re following, and on whether you're a graduate or undergraduate student.

International students can choose from a wide range of programs at Canadian universities. These include some of the most popular fields of study such as business, engineering, and sciences, and a number of specialized programs like veterinary medicine and forestry. 

Colleges and vocational schools are widely available throughout Canada, even in smaller towns with lower living costs. On average, these schools will charge between roughly CAD 2,000 and CAD 18,000 (approx. USD 1,461 and USD 13,146) per year in tuition. 

The cost of undergraduate studies at Canadian universities varies widely, ranging from as little as CAD 1,800 (~USD 1,315) to upwards of CAD 20,000 (~USD 14,614) depending on the campus. It will also depend on the course you will be taking, with arts programs generally being more affordable than medical programs and engineering programs.

For international students, studying at the top universities such as the University of Toronto, which ranks 22nd in the world among all universities, can cost upwards of CAD 50,000 (~USD 36,553.75). Still, even the higher end of this range is arguably more affordable than the tuition charged by comparable universities in other countries.

Although there are no tuition-free universities in Canada, either for international or resident students, the government, private organizations, and some universities may offer fully-funded scholarships and financial support, so it would be a good idea to check with the university you are considering attending.

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Study materials and supplies

The cost of college supplies for a typical Canadian student depends largely on the course they intend to study, as well as where they plan to attend college. For instance, medical students and students in the arts are likely to incur higher costs for equipment and other supplies than students in education and business.

Books can cost as much as USD 700, so it is best to save at least USD 1,000 per year for books and additional school supplies. It may be possible to reduce your textbook costs by purchasing second-hand books, renting books, or purchasing e-books.

Keep in mind that this does not include the costs of buying a laptop or desktop computer, but if necessary, you can also avail yourself of your campus' computer resources. Most colleges and universities have fully equipped libraries and resource centers.


Your accommodation costs while studying in Canada will depend heavily on the type of housing you choose, and on where you decide to study.

The three most common types of student accommodation–homestay, university accommodation, and private accommodation–vary considerably in cost. Every year, students pay around CA 5,250 (~US 3,846) for on-campus housing, and university meal plans offer a cheaper alternative to purchasing food from the institution's dining facilities.

Private shared accommodations, on the other hand, can cost up to CA 8,400 (~US 6,154) per year, bills not included. 

While Canadian provinces offer more affordable options, the most expensive campuses are often located in the most expensive Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Victoria, Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, where the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment can exceed USD 2,260.

Also Read: Student Accommodation in Canada


International students studying in Canada are required to have health insurance. Although some Canadian provinces provide health insurance to international students under their provincial plans, not all do, so be sure you understand the health insurance policy of where you are studying.

There is no doubt that Canada's health care system is among the best in the world, ranking in the top 10% of 195 countries, with the majority of services being free or costing a fraction of what they would abroad. It should be noted, however, that if you do not qualify for health insurance or do not have it, you will have to pay for health-related expenses out of pocket, a costly option.

International students are covered under the provincial health insurance plans of some provinces, such as Alberta with a 12-month minimum study permit and British Columbia with a 6-month minimum study permit. 

However, major provinces such as Ontario and Quebec will not offer a provincial healthcare plan, so you are advised to inquire about your university's student health insurance plan, or opt for private health insurance that will cover basic services such as emergency visits and hospitalizations, as well as prescription drugs.

A typical health insurance policy, offered by companies such as iMed, BC MSP, and AMS/GSS) costs around USD 366 per year on average.

Remember that health insurance plans offered to international students through education institutions are not free and are usually added to a student's university tuition.

Also Read: International student's guide to healthcare and health insurance in Canada

Travel to and around Canada

Canadian cities are known for offering world-class amenities in a friendly, small-town atmosphere.

Canada's public transportation systems, which are usually dominated by buses, provide the most cost-effective and convenient mode of transportation. Biking can also be a great way to commute, especially in good weather.

The cost of public transit varies from city to city, but is usually between CAD 2.50 and CAD 4.00 per one-way trip. The one-way fare typically covers transfers between different modes of transportation. Some cities have a zone system, where you pay more if you travel farther or switch modes of transportation, instead of requiring you to pay multiple fares.

Students aged 18 to 25 are often eligible for certain discounts when purchasing the monthly transport passes that can be used on the subway or train. A monthly subscription costs about USD 65.80, while a one-way ticket costs USD 2.38. Taxis are another option, but they are usually more costly. 

As with all international travel, it is also important to consider the cost of traveling back and forth between Canada and your home country, particularly during academic breaks. The best way to estimate the cost of international flights is to compare flight prices ahead of time.

Also Read: Popular cities in Canada for international students

Food and drink

Food in Canada is as diverse as its landscape. While Canadian cuisine may not be well known around the world, the country's rich culture and history have helped to shape the many unique dishes that are now enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

As an international student, you can expect affordable prices and a wide variety of dishes, as well as international food outlets in your local area. 

According to the Toronto Nutritious Food Basket Calculator, an average student would spend approximately USD 157.93 per month on groceries and USD 25.56 on average at restaurants in major cities.

Having a university meal plan will help you save considerably on food costs. Usually, you will be able to choose one of several meal plans, which will cost you an average of USD 1,000 (including additional costs such as facility fees).


Canada is known for its friendly and welcoming citizens, who are always willing to chat and get to know new arrivals. There are many opportunities to socialize in Canada, whether you’re looking for a night out on the town, a cultural event, or just a chance to meet people and make friends.

Eating out at a restaurant with friends tends to cost around USD 14.26 per person. Museums and parks are also usually free of charge for students, while a coffee catch-up at Tim Hortons costs USD 1.29, and watching a movie together at the cinema costs around USD 10.96.

Even nightlife can be affordable, such as in Toronto, which is ranked eighth in the world for student nightlife and has some of the cheapest drink prices in comparison to other major cities. Drinks like cocktails often go for USD 10.24, and beers for USD 5.13.

Visa costs

In direct terms, the standard student visa application fee for all study permit applications in Canada costs CAD 150. On top of that, you will have to pay CAD 85 for your biometrics fee, a one-time requirement by the Canadian government to verify your identity.

There is no direct and easy way to get a Canadian visa. However, if you follow the application procedure and meet all the requirements, you should be able to obtain your study permit. Your student visa is valid for the duration of your educational program, plus an additional 90 days.

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Various living expenses

Keep in mind that if you plan on studying abroad, you will be required to pay a variety of additional living expenses, the majority of which will affect you during your first year of study.

A basic mobile phone package may cost you USD 21.93 monthly, car insurance may cost USD 1,096, and entertainment and shopping may cost you USD 75, depending on your lifestyle. 

The cost of studying in Canada can vary greatly depending on the institution and study program you choose. However, with careful planning and research, international students will find themselves enjoying top-notch education and an affordable lifestyle.

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