Budgeting but struggling: RBC poll finds students are pulling
out all the stops to get by
TORONTO, September 9, 2008 — Most post-secondary
students start the school year knowing they might be short
on cash, but many say they'll get by even if it means cutting
some drastic corners like food, tuition and books, according
to RBC's Student Finance Opinion Poll.
If the past year is any indication of what's ahead, the poll,
conducted by Ipsos Reid, found that money was tight at some
point during the past school year for 60 per cent of students
surveyed, with 35 per cent of them claiming it was tight all
And students made some troubling compromises to get by. When
funds were tight, more than half (56 per cent) said they coped
by spending less money on food, while 23 per cent said they
managed by not buying all the books they needed for class.
Another 12 per cent said they made do by paying their tuition
Still, an overwhelming majority (79 per cent) are showing
up for the new school year with a budget in hand, and in a
show of confidence, 73 per cent say they'll stick to it.
"Budgeting for school isn't exactly a luxury these days
- it's a necessity, and most students get that," says
Kavita Joshi, director, Student Markets at RBC. "But
even with good intentions, it can be hard to stay the course
throughout the school year. There simply may not be enough
cash to cover basic expenses, and while students may be working
with a budget, the budget doesn't always work for them."
Now you see it, now you don't: Where the money goes
Looking back on where their money went during the last school
year, current students said school-related expenses - including
tuition, books, and other academic fees - accounted for 36
per cent of their total spending while in school. Food and
housing made up another 36 per cent.
Among those current students who were unable to stick to
their budgets, 45 per cent blamed unexpected expenses for
derailing their plans. Another 13 per cent said their budget
was not realistic.
Working to pay the bills and confronting debt
As some skimp and cut corners to get by, most students are
also finding jobs and working to cover expenses. Seventy-six
per cent said they work part time while attending school,
with almost half of them (49 per cent) citing the need to
pay bills as the reason.
While many students will take loans to cover school and living
expenses, struggling with spending can also lead to unwanted
or unnecessary debt. In fact, the poll also found that less
than half (44 per cent) of students who are currently attending
college or university expect to graduate debt free. That's
in line with what recent grads had to say, as 54 per cent
of them reported finishing school in debt even though a whopping
84 per cent thought it was important not to.
Beating those budget blues
When asked how students are managing their finances, the survey
showed that almost half (48 per cent) of those polled are
doing it themselves. Another 39 per cent of students are trying
to do most of their financial management themselves, while
seeking some help from parents and other relatives. Thirteen
per cent said they are relying primarily on help from parents
"If you blow the budget, it's not the end of the world,"
says Joshi. "So don't be afraid to call home for some
advice, and remember that your bank can play a key role in
getting you back on track too. That's why we're encouraging
students to talk to us about making a budget work, managing
debt, and getting the tools and advice to keep your finances
on course throughout the school year and well after graduation."
For more information, including advice and tips for students,
please visit www.rbcroyalbank.com/student
or visit RBC's student-led online community at www.rbcp2p.com,
or check out our Facebook fan page "RBC Bankbook."
These are some of the findings of an RBC poll conducted by
Ipsos Reid between August 6 and August 11, 2008. This online
survey of 1,167 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 who
are students or recent students (within the past three years)
of a post-secondary educational institution, was conducted
via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online
panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling
and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure
that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual
Canadian population according to Census data. With a representative
sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to
within ±3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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Jackie Braden, RBC, Media Relations, 416-974-2124
Andrew McNeill, RBC, Media Relations, 416-955-2737