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Post-secondary students confident in financial knowledge: RBC Poll

Students living at home and away have different expectations when it comes to debt and managing finances

TORONTO, August 14, 2013 — The majority of post-secondary students (64 per cent) plan to live away from home while attending school this fall, despite expecting the cost to be about 50 per cent higher than those living at home according to the 2013 RBC Student Finances Poll. Of those students living away, more than eight-in-ten (83 per cent) are confident in their ability to manage their finances.

"For many students, post-secondary school is the first time that they are responsible for managing their own expenses," said Melissa Jarman, director, Student Banking, RBC. "Armed with a budget and an interest in learning, many of these students are gaining a strong foundation out of the gates that can have a significant impact on their financial future. Good financial habits should be as important as study habits for post-secondary students."

Despite confidence in their ability, almost eight-in-10 (78 per cent) students living at home say that they still have "a lot to learn" when it comes to managing finances, with 36 per cent of them assuming that their parents will take care of their financial needs. Only 25 per cent of those living away from home make that same assumption about their parents.

While students who live away expect to take on 40 per cent more debt than their peers who live at home ($30,800 compared to $22,000), the RBC poll finds that both groups expect to pay back debt in a similar timeframe. Those who live away expect to take 4.8 years to pay back their debt, while those who live at home expect to take 4.2 years.

"Whether you live at home or away, setting financial goals and sticking to them is important," added Jarman. "The results from this poll highlight the fact that students want to take responsibility for their financial health and are looking to their trusted sources, including their parents, for guidance."

To help students manage their finances, Jarman offers the following tips:

Living at home:

  • Understand your household expenses: Your parents may be footing the bill, but getting an understanding of how much it costs to run the household will be helpful in forecasting future expenses for when you do live on your own.
  • Make a budget: While you might not be responsible for household expenses, you will likely experience transportation/parking costs, student fees, clothing, entertainment and food (likely including a morning cup of coffee).
  • Save for later: Living at home through school could give you an opportunity to save for your future. Putting money aside on a regular basis will give you a head start when it's time to move out.

Living away at school:

  • Know all your financial options: Look for scholarships, bursaries and work programs to help fund your education.
  • Track your expenses: From utilities to groceries, knowing where your money is going is the first step to establishing a budget. Also, if you're living with roommates, decide in advance how you will share costs to ensure there aren't any surprises.
  • Assess your needs: Do you need your own car or can you take advantage of public transit? Can you rent your textbooks or buy used ones from your campus bookstore? Can you change your mobile plan to ensure you're only paying for what you need?

For both groups:

  • Ask for student rates everywhere you go: From the bus to the movies, retailers often give discounts to students.
  • Be disciplined about debt: Whether that's using a credit card for everyday spending or taking out a loan to offset tuition costs, understanding all the factors that impact the cost of borrowing money will put you in control.

About RBC's financial planning advice, resources and interactive tools
RBC's Advice Centre offers advice and tools for students. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance, including the Debt Reduction Plan and the Debt Consolidation Calculator. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service. Further information is available at In addition, RBC's myFinanceTracker, a comprehensive online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits. As well, RBC Virtual Visa Debit enables clients to pay for online, over the phone, or mail order purchases with funds directly from their bank account.

About RBC Student Finances Poll 2013
The 2013 RBC Student Finances Poll was conducted by Ipsos Reid through a national online survey of 1,107 post-secondary students (as of September 2013). Data was collected from June 18 to July 2, 2013. 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 student population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted, probability sample of this size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

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For more information, please contact:

Ciaran Dickson, 416-974-1794,
Suzanne Willers, RBC, 416 974-2727,


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