What you should know before studying abroad in Canada

Home to breathtaking landscapes, exciting cities, and world-renowned universities, Canada is a preferred destination of many students who decide to venture abroad.

You might opt to study in Toronto to be able to take in everything that this vibrant city has to offer. Or, you might make your way to Montreal to dive into French culture and language. Yet another option would be to head west to British Columbia to gain access to some of the world’s most beautiful natural spaces. And it doesn’t even stop there!

Before jetting off however, there are ways to ensure you’re making the most of your trip abroad. This can include:

  • How much it will cost to study abroad in Canada
  • How to save money while you’re there
  • Things to do when you’re in Canada, and
  • How to apply to a university in Canada as a foreign student.

Thinking about studying in Canada and might need to transfer money? Find out more about sending money to Canada.

How much does it cost to study abroad in Canada?

One of the best reasons for studying abroad in Canada is the affordability of the schools there. On average, tuition and living expenses are typically around $20,000 to $30,000 CAD.2 Compared to other countries, you might be able to save money by going to Canada as an international student.

But, of course, your actual costs will depend on where you go to school, what program you sign up for, and where you choose to live.

In terms of living expenses, if you’re planning on renting an apartment off-campus, rather than living on-campus, a two-bedroom space might cost you a little over $1,000 CAD monthly, but this will vary by location. And there might also be additional costs, such as utilities, that you’ll need to account for as well.2

Another cost to consider is health insurance, as every international student is required to have it. Some provinces, such as British Columbia and Alberta, might cover you with provincial plans. Other provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, might require that you get private insurance.2

What to consider when studying abroad in Canada

Pro tip: Want to know how much it’ll cost you to study in Canada? Use OFX’s currency charts to estimate out how far your money will stretch when converted into Canadian dollars.

How to save money while studying internationally in Canada

Save on accommodation with roommates

There are several surprisingly easy ways to save money while you’re studying abroad in Canada. For example, if you’re planning on living off-campus, you might be able to find roommates with whom you can split the cost of the rent.

Skip the fuel costs

Also, if you live close enough to campus, you might be able to save money by biking or walking to school. Otherwise, you could use public transport options, which usually cost only a few dollars, with the option of purchasing monthly passes that may also help you save extra cash.

Take advantage of student discounts

Wherever possible, take advantage of student discounts, whether you’re going to a museum, taking public transport, or anything in between. It’s just another simple way to save some money.

Apply for scholarships

Plus, you can also save money by applying for scholarships. There are a variety of scholarships available for international students, some of which are offered through federal government departments and Global Affairs Canada.3

Consider asking your school’s financial aid department to learn about scholarships, as well as other options, that can help reduce the costs of studying in Canada.

And let’s not forget that transferring money from abroad to pay for your tuition, fees, and other living expenses can be costly. With the help of an international money transfer service like OFX, however, you can cut costs dramatically. For example, rather than using a bank, transferring your funds with OFX may help you save up to 70%.* on your transfer.

Students in Canada

Things to do while studying abroad in Canada

There’s no shortage of fun things to do while studying abroad in Canada. From pubs, clubs, and restaurants, to parks, museums, and tourist attractions, it’s easy to fill your days with activities that give you the chance to meet new people and make memories.

And remember, every province, city, and town has something unique to offer. So, when you have some time off from school, a road trip could be a wonderful way to explore a new place without having to go too far from home.

What are the requirements for studying overseas in Canada?

There are quite a few steps involved in applying to study abroad in Canada, so it’s a great idea to give yourself plenty of time. In fact, it would be wise to give yourself a year to ensure you get everything done on time.

The requirements for studying in Canada might depend on the province that you’re hoping to move to. However, you can generally expect that universities and colleges in Canada may require an updated passport, along with proof that you’re proficient in English or French, and additional proof that you have the financial ability to pay for your studies and live in Canada.

Toronto, Canada

How to apply for overseas study in Canada

Here is a basic step-by-step breakdown of what you can do to make the application process as streamlined as possible:

Get your Designated Learning Institute (DLI) status

As you research the school that you’d like to attend, make sure that it has attained what’s known as a Designated Learning Institute (DLI) status. Only schools with this status are able to accept students from other countries.

Prove your proficiency in English or French

All international students whose aim is to study in Canada have to prove that they’re proficient in English or French. You might need to take a test, such as the IELTS test for English or the TEF test for French, and pay a fee to do so. Take this seriously, as passing the test might be necessary to ensure acceptance into the school of your choice.

Fill out an application form

Once you’re ready to actually apply, it’s a matter of filling out the applications for the schools that you’re most interested in. Bear in mind that application fees, which might be upwards of $250 CAD,1 can certainly add up, so you might need to limit the number of universities that you end up applying to.

Apply for you Canada Study Permit

After receiving your acceptance letter, it’s time to apply for your Canada Study Permit, which you can do online. Submit the application and fee, along with other required materials, such as your acceptance letter, passport, proof that you can afford to live and study in Canada, and biometrics (a photo and fingerprints).

Note: If you’re planning on studying in Quebec, you might also need to include a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ), which you’d receive with your letter of acceptance. Apply for a visa.

Because a study permit isn’t a visa, you might need to apply for a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) as well in order to enter the country. If you do need this extra documentation, it will likely be issued to you as part of your application for your study permit.

Prepare for additional travel requirements

An interview might be necessary after you’ve submitted your application for your study permit. Then, once you receive your permit, you’ll be ready to make arrangements to travel to the country and begin your journey as a student in Canada.

Canada’s waiting for you!

With the tips above, you can start a new chapter by studying abroad in Canada. Take advantage of the fact that this country offers some of the world’s best programs at tuition prices that might be much lower than what you’d spend elsewhere.

*Average savings based on published rates of ANZ, Westpac, NAB and CBA on a single transfer of AUD$10,000 to USD between 6.9.18 and 8.10.18 excluding weekends. Transaction costs excluded. Quoted savings are not indicative of future savings.


1. https://www.immigration.ca/study-in-canada-step-by-step-guide-for-international-students

2. https://www.universitystudy.ca/plan-for-university/what-does-it-cost-to-study-in-canada/

3. https://www.scholarships-bourses.gc.ca/scholarships-bourses/non_can/opportunities-opportunites.aspx?lang=eng

4. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/student.asp

5. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/study-permit.html

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