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College students more confident about their future than their university peers: RBC Poll

College students view post-secondary education as job training whereas university students see it as a stepping-stone

TORONTO, September 18, 2013 - While the majority of post-secondary students see the value in their education, more college students (92 per cent) say their education gives them an advantage and puts them on a level playing field in the job market compared to their university peers (87 per cent). The 2013 RBC Student Finances Poll also found that 81 per cent of university grads see post-secondary education as a stepping-stone to higher study, compared to 70 per cent of college students.

“We know that the employment rate increases with education,” said Melissa Jarman, director, Student Banking, RBC. “Understanding that a certificate, diploma or degree makes you more than 45 per cent more likely to be employed shows that regardless of the route you take, post-secondary education really is one of the most important ways to secure your future.”

While college students may be planning to get into the workforce more quickly, university students can expect higher income potential upon graduation. Statistics Canada notes that average salary two years after graduation for university graduates is $45,000 and $35,000 for college graduates.

However, higher earning potential comes with an associated cost. The RBC poll showed that university students expected the total cost of education to be $40,500, more than 60 per cent higher than college students ($25,100). According to the poll, the percentage of university and college students who planned to take on debt was roughly similar (67 per cent versus 63 per cent, respectively). University students planned to take on approximately $10,000 more than their college-based peers and planned to take almost an additional year to pay it off.

“In Canada, we are fortunate to have a robust post-secondary system that allows for choice,” adds Jarman. “While there are significant financial considerations to be made, the most important decision is to choose the career path that is right for you, and then evaluate your options to fund that choice.”

Jarman offers the following tips to students who want to ensure they are making the best financial investment in their future:

  • Self examination: Before you even look at schools or fees, start with self examination:
    • What are your interests and passions?
    • What are your strengths and abilities?
    • What jobs or careers interest you?

  • Labour market trends: Use research from Statistics Canada or industry associations to better understand where the opportunities are in the labour market so that you have a better chance of finding a job when you graduate. Evaluate the market size and the salary expectations, location and mobility requirements for any field you are considering.

  • Education options: Consider all your options, including college, university and trade/vocational school. Be sure to evaluate all aspects, including length of study, specific learning outcomes, expected salary upon completion and future growth and development.
  • Cost: Investigate the cost of your planned education and begin to think about how you will pay for it. Be sure to understand and evaluate all of the options available to you, including RESPs, scholarships and bursaries, and loans from the government as well as financial institutions.

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, RBC Communications, 416 974-1794
Jill Anzarut, RBC Communications, 416 313-5778