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Many students say cash won't last past Christmas — RBC poll

RBC has three simple tips to help students manage their finances

TORONTO, August 18, 2009 — University and college students are becoming increasingly concerned about whether they have enough money to get through the school year, according to a new RBC/Ipsos Reid Student Finance Opinion poll. The survey found that 43 per cent of new college and university students and 35 per cent of returning students feel that they can only stretch their spending money as far as the Christmas break, with half (50 per cent) of all post-secondary students expecting it to run out before the school year ends.

The poll found that almost 8 in 10 (79 per cent) post-secondary students plan to work part-time while in school, with almost half of those indicating they need to work to pay the bills.

"Working to make ends meet is an additional challenge for students, with at least three-quarters concerned that working will affect their grades and two-thirds believing that worrying about money will have a negative impact on their studies," said Kavita Joshi, director, Student Banking at RBC. "Getting the right advice and finding the proper academic, social and financial balance will minimize stress and make their school year easier to handle."

The poll indicated that almost half (48 per cent) of returning post-secondary students like being responsible for their own finances and 37 per cent find that managing their finances while in school is harder than expected. Given the recent economic conditions, two-thirds of returning students (66 per cent) also plan to be more cautious with spending this school year.

"With the student unemployment rate at an all-time high, managing your finances responsibly and planning ahead becomes even more important," adds Joshi. "It costs money when you don't plan. You may end up buying food because you didn't take a lunch to school. It's fast but not necessarily cheap."

During the last year, when money was tight, students said they cut back on essentials and incidentals: 61 per cent spent less on food; 57 per cent spent less on alcohol; 23 per cent didn't buy all the books they needed; and 11 per cent paid their tuition late.

Here are Joshi's three key tips to help students manage their finances:

1. Know yourself
Understand your financial mindset and what's important to you. Some students might opt to take on additional hours at work and cut their course load. Other students feel they can take on a little more debt. Both are valid choices. It comes down to your financial comfort level and being realistic about what you can live with.

2. You're in control
Students must learn to manage many new expenses - from tuition to housing. It's important to identify all of them and assess how much you're actually spending. There are lots of moving parts that can seem overwhelming, but you have choices. You are the one in control of your spending with the discretion about whether, when and how much you spend.

3. Get informed
Once you understand your spending, you can find the right solutions. Students need to explore all financial options including work, bursaries, loans and scholarships. Seek advice from experts like financial counsellors on campus or your local bank.

Joshi recommends students use tools like RBC's Better Student Life website (about money management) and Student Budget Check (to calculate the money you need to get through the school year, based on your spending). Both are available at www.betterstudentlife.ca

These are some of the findings of an RBC poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between June 9 and June 17, 2009. This online survey of 1,200 Canadian students, either returning to post-secondary school or intending to start at post-secondary school in September 2009, was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. No weighting of the final sample was done as we assume that the respondents are a random sample of Canadian students. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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Media contacts:
Matt Gierasimczuk,
RBC Media Relations, 416-974-2124

Suzanne Willers,
RBC Corporate Communications, 416-974-2727


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08/18/2009 08:39:43