What is the Cost of Bachelor’s Degree in Canada?

What is the Cost of Bachelor's Degree in Canada

The cost of obtaining a degree is a significant worry for many individuals considering college, and with good cause. From 1980 to 2024, the average tuition for a bachelor’s degree nearly tripled, even when adjusting for inflation. However, before you become overly concerned, there’s more to this situation than meets the eye. Attaining a college degree can be considerably more budget-friendly than you may imagine, particularly if you are aware of strategies and techniques to make the most of your resources.


How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

The College Board reports that in the 2024 academic year, the average published tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates attending a four-year program varied from $10,940 for in-state students at a public institution to $39,400 at a private university.

However, it’s important to note that these published tuition and fee numbers often represent just the surface of the total expenses, as they do not encompass additional costs such as housing and transportation. This is why, in addition to publishing their tuition and fees, most colleges provide average estimated budgets, or the total cost of attendance. These budgets include tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, textbooks, and other personal expenses. For many students, this comprehensive figure offers a more precise estimate of the actual cost of obtaining a degree.

In the 2024 academic year, the projected annual budgets for full-time undergraduate students at four-year institutions displayed a range of figures. These included $27,940 for in-state students at public four-year institutions, $45,240 for out-of-state students at public four-year schools, and $57,570 for students attending private, nonprofit four-year institutions.


It’s important to keep in mind that tuition and fees at public schools can vary significantly from one state to another. Therefore, when estimating costs, it’s advisable to investigate the tuition rates and residency requirements specific to your state.

What Distinctly Separates the “Sticker Price” from the “Net Price” in College Expenses?

While the initial “sticker” prices of college expenses may appear daunting, it’s crucial to recognize that the actual “net price” you end up paying, considering financial aid and scholarships, can be significantly lower. According to the College Board, a substantial percentage of students benefit from federal, state, or institutional grant aid. Specifically, 78% of students at public four-year institutions and 88% of students at private nonprofit four-year institutions received such aid. It’s worth noting that this data pertains to students who are enrolled in college full-time and for the first time, although other students are also eligible for aid. Grant aid, distinct from loans, does not require repayment, which essentially translates to these students receiving a reduced cost for their education.

When you apply for financial aid, each college that admits you will provide a financial aid “package.” This package can be used to assess what your actual cost of attendance (net price) will be. Since financial aid offers can differ substantially, it’s a prudent approach to consider a variety of colleges, even those that may seem more costly at first glance. Surprisingly, some of these seemingly expensive schools often have more substantial budgets allocated for scholarships and grants. As a result, they might be more affordable for you compared to institutions with lower published tuition rates.

What factors influence the Cost of Earning a College Degree?

Many factors contribute to the price differences between institutions. 

  • Public vs. private institutions

In general, the initial tuition rates published by public colleges and universities tend to be lower than those of private universities, particularly for in-state students. Nonetheless, these advertised prices can be misleading. Many private schools have the capacity to provide a greater number of scholarships and financial aid options compared to their public counterparts. Additionally, a larger proportion of students enrolled in private schools receive grant assistance.

  • Quality of college facilities and services

Certain colleges allocate substantial resources to on-campus amenities and programs, encompassing a wide range of offerings, from elaborate recreational facilities like lazy rivers to comprehensive arts programs. These investments can substantially increase the overall cost of tuition. If such amenities hold significant value for you, the additional expense may be justifiable. However, if these features are not a priority for you, it’s reasonable to seek cost-effective options that avoid these additional expenditures.

“Even if you’re not a resident on campus, the expenses associated with those amenities and programs can sometimes be included in your tuition,” explained Whitney Dodds, who leads the undergraduate admissions team at Franklin University. “So, even if you’re not paying for room and board, a portion of your tuition may be allocated for facilities like the gym, which you may or may not utilize, or for residential life activities that you may not participate in.”

  • Online vs. traditional classroom instruction

At many universities with a predominant physical campus presence, both online and in-person courses are subject to identical tuition rates. This is due to the fact that universities must cover expenses related to facility maintenance and activities for on-campus students. In certain cases, some universities even impose higher tuition fees for online courses.

However, universities that primarily offer online or hybrid programs, such as Franklin University, often have considerably lower tuition fees because they do not bear the costs associated with physical facilities and their upkeep. By enrolling in one of these programs, you can be confident that your tuition payments are directed towards your educational costs rather than covering expenses related to your peers’ extracurricular activities.

  • Permanent vs. temporary faculty

Various universities employ distinct models for faculty employment, which can have a significant impact on educational costs. Some institutions predominantly hire full-time, tenured professors, while others, like Franklin University, primarily engage professionals who are experts in their respective fields to teach courses on a part-time or adjunct basis.

When evaluating different universities, Dodds suggested, “Take into account the proportion of full-time, tenured faculty they have. While this might offer specific advantages, it can also be a costly approach. If you’re considering an institution with a higher number of adjunct faculty members, not only are these individuals more cost-effective for the university, but they also tend to be actively engaged in the industry they are teaching about, ensuring their instruction remains current and highly relevant to students.”

How Can You Reduce the Cost of Your College Degree?

Understanding the factors that influence college expenses can assist you in discovering more budget-friendly alternatives. Nevertheless, irrespective of the institution you choose to attend, there are strategies you can employ to minimize your overall expenses.

  • Seek financial assistance

Most students are eligible for some form of financial aid, encompassing federal, state, and institutional grants, loans, as well as work-study programs. To initiate this process, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. This application is employed to evaluate your financial requirements and inquires about your income and assets (and, depending on your circumstances, possibly those of your family).

  • Apply for scholarships

Scholarships are financial awards granted to students based on various criteria, including their academic achievements in high school, life experiences, or membership in specific communities. This implies that there is a diverse range of scholarships for which you may qualify. Franklin University simplifies the scholarship application process by including it as part of the admissions application. This approach enables you to indicate the scholarships for which you meet the criteria, eliminating the need for multiple separate applications.

  • Transfer credits from advanced high school courses or community college

Certain students may have the option to transfer credits from courses they completed during high school, such as those in Advanced Placement (AP) programs, towards their college degrees. Alternatively, some students might determine that it is financially advantageous to complete general education courses at a community college prior to transferring to a four-year institution. If you are contemplating this path, it’s essential to thoroughly review the credit transfer policy and criteria for each college. While some institutions, like Franklin, have a more lenient approach towards accepting transfer credits, others may have stricter policies and accept few or no credits from external sources.

  • Strive to graduate expeditiously

In 2020, a report from the U.S. government revealed that only 64% of undergraduate students who began their degree programs in 2014 had completed their degrees within six years. Furthermore, less than half of those earning bachelor’s degrees managed to do so within 48 months (four years) or less.

If you are enrolled in programs that bill you on a per-credit basis, prolonging your degree completion may not necessarily result in increased expenses. However, additional time spent pursuing your education can directly correlate with extra costs if you are attending an institution that charges tuition on a per-semester or per-year basis.

  • Reduce room and board as well as transportation expenses.

For numerous students, residing off-campus can prove to be a more economical option compared to on-campus housing, particularly when there is reliable public transportation accessible in the vicinity. Nevertheless, relocating to a new area can still entail additional costs. To further curtail expenses, contemplate the possibility of enrolling in online courses, which not only eliminate transportation expenses but also obviate the need for potential relocation.

  • Employment alongside your studies

Consider educational programs that provide sufficient flexibility, allowing you to maintain employment while pursuing your degree. Even if your earnings only suffice to cover a portion of your tuition or living costs, you can appreciably diminish the extent of student loans you may be compelled to secure to attain your degree.

Although this might pose challenges due to class schedules at several conventional institutions, schools that primarily cater to adult and returning students typically structure their programs to accommodate working individuals. For instance, programs at Franklin University are predominantly asynchronous, and any synchronous classes and meetings are typically scheduled in the evenings, thereby catering to the needs of working students.

How to Determine the Value of a Bachelor’s Degree

Determining whether pursuing a bachelor’s degree is the right choice for you is a deeply personal decision. Nonetheless, carefully evaluating the potential costs and advantages can guide you in making an informed decision.

Start by considering the types of occupations and income levels you aspire to achieve and investigating job listings for those roles. Find out if these positions require or prefer a bachelor’s degree. If they do not, consider whether career progression in your chosen field could be limited without a degree. While it may be feasible to enter certain industries without a degree, you may discover that a degree is still essential for moving into managerial roles.

Additionally, take into account how a bachelor’s degree can influence your income and expenses. Calculate your expected salary with a degree and subtract loan repayments, then compare it to the income you would earn without a degree (and without any associated loans). Keep in mind that you will likely work for many years after repaying your loans, and the positive impact of a higher salary can significantly accumulate over time.