Estimating your expenses
To realistically estimate your expenses, it’s important to factor in all sources of spending and not only your housing or grocery expenses. For an academic year, these sources include:
Tuition and ancillary fees
Tuition fees vary depending on your faculty, program, the number of credits you are taking, etc. Check the tuition fee table to determine the exact amount.
Here are a few tips to reduce your costs:
- Register before the deadline and avoid late fees of up to $100;
- Pay your invoice before the deadline and avoid late fees of up to $35 plus interest;
- Undergraduate students registered for the fall and winter sessions: payment for both sessions is due in early fall. However, with an administrative fee of $35, you may pay your tuition one session at a time;
- Undergraduate students: by paying your ancillary fees, you join the health insurance plan provided by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. You may be exempted from joining this plan by proving you hold comparable insurance, which could save you up to $180. Contact the Student Federation for more information.
- Graduate students: you may withdraw from the health and/or dental insurance parts of the insurance plan by providing proof of alternate coverage and completing a withdrawal form available from the GSAED office. This could save you up to $405. Contact GSAED for more information.
This item includes textbooks, photocopies, electronic and computer equipment (be sure to include your ink cartridges, USB key, etc.), and stationery.
Here are a few suggestions to minimize the impact on your pocketbook:
- Buy used textbooks;
- Sell the textbooks you no longer need;
- Share textbooks;
- Reuse your school supplies from last year that remain in good condition;
- Only print documents you really need (and double side them);
- Compare the cost of ink cartridges before buying a printer.
Rent or university residence
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, your monthly housing expenses should not exceed 32% of your household's monthly income.
Here are a few basic principles we suggest you consider carefully before choosing housing:
- Whenever possible, live with your parents to reduce your expenses;
- If you don't live with your parents, choose a place near the University to save time and reduce your transportation costs;
- Whenever possible, share your living space with roommates to reduce your costs. However, before jumping into this adventure, be sure to set some ground rules!
Other information and helpful tips on housing can be found on the Webpage of the University's Housing Service.
Unless you’re living with your parents or in residence, you must also factor in your energy and telecommunications expenses.
- Energy: Heat, hydro, water. You may sign up for equal payment plans to make it easier to manage these budget items.
- Telephone, cable, Internet: it’s advisable to evaluate your real needs before signing up for various services. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I share these costs with my roommates or neighbours?
- Do I really need a landline and a cell phone?
- Have I checked into long distance plans tailored to my needs?
- Do I really need options such as voicemail, call waiting, etc.?
Food is an important but often neglected budget item. Whether you eat at the cafeteria, in restaurants or at home, Canada’s Food Guide can help you plan your meals. The magazine Protégez-vous also publishes the guide Bien acheter pour mieux manger [buy well to eat better] to help you make sound choices.
Here are a few tips to reduce your grocery bill:
- Avoid doing your groceries when you’re hungry;
- Plan your meals a week in advance;
- Based on your meal plan, make a list of the items you need and stick to it;
- Buy in bulk and split the purchases and costs with other people;
- Use discount coupons.
Use public transit and save!
The monthly cost of bus passes ranges from $52.50 to $103.00 for full-time students. See the OC Transpo (Ottawa) or STO (Gatineau) Websites for more information.
NOTE: According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), the annual cost of operating a new sedan in 2008 was $8,944. This estimate includes fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, driver’s licence and registration, depreciation, and financing charges based on 18,000 km of use. In concrete terms, this means it costs approximately $9,000 a year just to own a car!
As well, some provinces (such as Ontario) factor in the market value of cars registered in your name when evaluating your assets and income for the purpose of determining financial aid. Simply owning or leasing a car could have a significant impact on the amount of financial aid you receive. Make an appointment with one of our advisors to learn more.
If you have no choice but to drive, here are a few tips to cut your costs:
- Compare the cost of insuring different models before you purchase or lease (some cars of equal quality may cost more to ensure);
- Find an honest and reliable mechanic before an emergency arises, and learn the basics of mechanics;
- Follow the speed limit and drive courteously (aggressive driving increases your fuel consumption);
- Turn off the ignition when idling;
- Maintain correct tire pressure to reduce friction, increase the performance of your car, and extend the life of your tires.
To get a handle on your finances, it’s important to become aware of your many daily expenses. Indeed, small expenses can have a big impact over the long term. For instance, spending three dollars on a coffee and muffin five times a week could cost you $780 a year. Making withdrawals from automatic tellers other than those belonging to your financial institution will cost you an average of $1.50 to $3.00 per withdrawal. Remember to include your expenses for clothing, laundry and dry cleaning as well as your expenses for leisure activities, sports and going out. Contrary to other budget items, personal expenses can easily be reduced, although it remains important to give yourself a break now and then. To help you see where your money is going, note every expense you make for a week using the following table:
Here are a few tips to control your personal expenses:
- With your ancillary fees comes access to our sports facilities. For further information, check the Webpage of the Sports Service;
- The Rideau Canal skateway is available free of charge in the winter;
- You have free access to the videos and audio recordings held by the University of Ottawa library;
- Via the library’s Website, you also have free access to full versions of major dailies such as The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, etc.
If you live in Ontario, you could be entitled to a subsidized daycare space. Contact the City of Ottawa to determine whether you are eligible.
If you live in Quebec, you could benefit from a daycare space at $7.00 a day. Contact your local early childhood education centre.
If you have more than two children and are receiving Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) funding, you may be eligible for the Ontario Child-Care Bursary.
Undergraduate students receive coverage for prescription drug expenses. To learn more, visit the Website of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.
In addition to prescription drug coverage, graduate students can obtain dental coverage. To learn more, visit the Website of the Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa.