Tips for your student tax return

7 ways to be financially secured as a student.


Last updated on August 24, 2023.

Post-secondary education can be one of the most exciting, and expensive, times of your life. You’re venturing out on your own, meeting new people, and learning a lot but none of it comes cheap. Managing your money carefully and living within your means will allow you to avoid costly mistakes and prepare you for life after school.

Paying for tuition and living expenses while avoiding a mountain of debt is definitely a challenge, but there are a few ways to make it through school with a healthy financial outlook:

1. Investing in a TFSA as a student.

Take advantage of tax breaks. Did you know that students in Canada are eligible for a variety of tax breaks? Find out what your options are and talk to your accountant to maximize your returns. You work hard for your money, so you’ll want to keep as much as possible! A good option is to consider Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). A TFSA allows you to save for short-term or start investing for the long-term. The income from those investments is completely tax-free!

2. Part-time jobs for students.

Squeeze in a short-term work opportunity. Proctoring exams, working as a teaching assistant, tutoring other students, and working for your school’s alumni office are all possible places to find short-term, supplementary work in between your regular job or when you have downtime. Check the bulletin board in your student union office, talk to the on-campus employment office and put out the word that you’re looking for a little extra. Is it an election year? There’s always a need for people to pick up temporary work during election time.

3. Choose a zero-fee bank account.

College life is a financial juggling act, but your bank account shouldn’t make it harder. There are many options out there, but choosing a zero-fee bank account is a great way to save money without the unnecessary fees. Vancity’s Youth Account¹ (for ages under 25) gives you free unlimited everyday transactions. Plus, your deposits are 100% protected by the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (CUDIC).

4. Look into grants and scholarships.

Apply for everything you’re even remotely qualified for. You’d be surprised how often these go unclaimed because no one applies for them. Start with the online databases. Then think about what relationships you have with companies and organizations in your life through connections or family. Have you been volunteering for years with an organization? Had the same credit union since you were twelve years old? Maybe your parents are part of the local Rotary Club? Most local chapters of these organizations have scholarships and bursaries available, but you have to ask in order to find them.

5. Build your credit history.

Be selective when choosing that shiny new card. Campuses are a hot spot for credit card companies looking for new customers. Be careful! If used wisely, credit cards can be a great way to begin building your credit score, but they can also become a very expensive way to borrow money if you don’t pay your balance off every month. A great choice to consider is the Vancity enviro™ Visa* card. The best part? There’s no annual fee and it contributes to the environment with every swipe you make. 5% of enviro Visa card profits go towards environmental initiatives. There’s also a reward points system, allowing you to earn as you spend – rewards can add up quickly and provide you valuable savings.

6. Maximize campus resources.

Before you head out on the town for the weekend, consider checking out what’s happening on campus. From movie nights to fitness classes, your home base is likely loaded with free and fun things to do with friends if you plan a little ahead.

7. Make student loan payments.

Don’t think of your student loan as something that has to be dealt with after school. Make lump sum payments whenever possible or increase your monthly payments to pay it off faster. Any amount paid over and above your monthly minimum payment goes directly towards the principal of your loan, reducing the amount of interest you’ll pay.

Looking for more information to help you build your financial knowledge and create more peace of mind? You can book a one-to-one planning appointment with one of our wealth management professionals to talk about options relating to your financial situation.   

* Trademark of Visa Int. Used under license. 

¹ Everyday transactions are all of these:

  • Everyday Cheque and Preauthorized Payment Transactions are cheque transactions and preauthorized payments (PADs) from Vancity Accounts.
  • Everyday Online and Mobile Transactions are bill payments, cheque deposit using Vancity Mobile Deposit™, transfers from Vancity Accounts made online using a computer, mobile phone, Mobile Device or using Vancity’s automated Telephone Banking service.
  • Everyday In-Person Transactions are Account withdrawals, bill payments, transfers to or from Vancity Accounts conducted person-to-person, over the phone with our branch staff or Member Service Centre staff.
  • Everyday Debit Card Transactions are debit card purchases or ATM cash withdrawals or ATM transfers from Accounts
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