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1-in-3 post-secondary students consider dropping out because of costs: survey

Fifty per cent of participants said they expect to graduate with a minimum of $27,000 in debt
The survey took place over a 10-day period, with just over 1000 participants. Results show an overall rise in financial stress and pressures on post-secondary students, driving some to consider dropping out. (andibreit/

For most post-secondary students, being stressed out is generally part of the experience at some point.

A new study released in late August revealed that among the pressures that come with the trial of adulthood, students are feeling much more strain than learning life on their own.

A survey of just over 1,000 students was completed by Embark, a Canadian RESP company, in partnership with Leger, a Canadian research and analytics company. The survey took place online, and was open to any and all post-secondary students, including graduate and technical school students that were apart of Leger’s opinion panel.

“We wanted to do this survey to understand the students sentiment around post-secondary education, how they feel about going to school after high school, how they feel about cost,” Andrew Lo, Embark’s CEO, said in an interview.

Eighty per cent of respondents said they believe post-secondary education can open doors for them, but 75 per cent feel it’s very hard to afford.

“Students tell us, you know, I wish I knew about RESP’s because I would’ve asked my parents to take part of my part-time job income and put it into one” Lo said.

Seventy-two per cent said they feel that it’s hard to do anything in the current times without any post-secondary education. It’s not just the tuition costs adding to the strife, however,

In fact, 77 per cent reported struggling to afford all of their needs, with 60 per cent having to cut out necessities to make ends meet.

Though just over half of the participants said they feel debt is just part of the university experience, 57 per cent claim they worry debt will make it harder for them to be financially independent from parents or guardians in their future.

In the finance specific category of questions, 66 per cent said they feel anxiety when looking at their bank accounts. Fifty-four per cent said they avoid looking and thinking about finances and debt in general, a choice that later exacerbates the stress.

Nearly 50 per cent said they feel debt will hinder them in life, 79 per cent saying debt can be completely debilitating.

“Debt is a distraction from doing well in your studies,” Lo said.

Raising awareness and encouraging parents to consider an RESP for their children is key to what Embark is trying to do, according to Lo.

“We know that less than half of eligible Canadians are participating in RESPs,” he said.

“We want to raise awareness to give people advantages like this.”

READ ALSO: Students say they’re not being effectively taught how to deal with stress