If you’re an international student looking for the most affordable Canadian universities for international students, this article will be of immense benefit to you. So, read carefully to get the meat of the article.
No doubt, studying abroad is an exciting opportunity to gain new experiences and perspectives while furthering your education. However, as an international student, affordability is often a top concern when choosing a university. With tuition, fees, housing, food, and other costs, the financial burden can be enormous.
Canada has become an increasingly popular study destination for students from across the globe. Its world-class universities, tolerant multicultural society, and potential immigration opportunities make it very attractive. But Canada is also known to be an expensive country. Are there still affordable Canadian universities for international students with a tight budget?
While famous schools like the University of Toronto or McGill may be out of reach, Canada is home to many excellent universities that offer quality education at a fraction of the price. You just need to know where to look.
This article highlights the 10 most affordable universities in Canada for international students. The rankings are based on low tuition fees as well as the availability of scholarships, financial aid, and low cost of living.
Read on to discover your budget-friendly options in Canada!
What Makes a University Affordable for International Students?
When assessing affordability, it is important to look beyond just the tuition fee. The total costs include:
- Tuition fees per program – Additional mandatory fees like health insurance
- Scholarships and bursaries available
- Estimated living expenses in the city/region
For international students, every dollar matters. Universities that offer financial assistance and are located in less expensive cities will rank higher in terms of affordability. Geographic location, population size, and the local economy all impact the overall cost of living.
With these factors in mind, let’s look at the most affordable Canadian universities for international students.
The Top 10 Most Affordable Canadian Universities
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Memorial University is the most affordable university in Canada for international students. Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest tuition rates in Canada.
For undergraduate international students, tuition fees are around $8,600 CAD per year. This does not include housing and other costs. But compared to other universities charging $30,000 CAD or more per year, it is a huge difference!
Memorial also provides international student scholarships and assistantships through the School of Graduate Studies. The university offers in-state tuition fees for graduate students from the USA and several other countries.
With a population of about 100,000 people, St. John’s has relatively low costs of living. Shared student apartments can be found for under $500/month per person. Groceries, transportation, and other expenses are lower compared to cities like Vancouver or Toronto.
University of Winnipeg
The University of Winnipeg is located in the province of Manitoba, near the longitudinal center of Canada. It is a public university with a strong reputation for social sciences, humanities, and science programs.
International undergraduate students pay around $18,890 CAD in tuition fees. This does not include books, supplies, insurance, housing, and other expenses.
The University of Winnipeg offers entrance scholarships ranging from $3,500 to $5,000 for international students with high academic achievement. They also provide dozens of other awards, bursaries, and scholarships to support students.
Winnipeg is one of the most affordable cities in Canada, with relatively low rents and costs of living. Public transit is free for students in the U-Pass program.
Cape Breton University
Located on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton University (CBU) is a public university focused on innovative teaching and research. Undergraduate international student tuition is around $17,000 CAD per year.
International students are eligible for renewable entrance scholarships from $2,000 to $8,000 CAD based on grades. CBU also provides other bursaries and academic awards for international students after they enroll.
The cost of living on Cape Breton Island is lower than other major cities in Canada. Students can find good housing for $500 – $800 per month. Groceries, transportation, and other expenses are very reasonable. Outdoor activities like hiking and camping make it easy to have fun on a budget.
Mount Allison University
Mount Allison University is located in Sackville, New Brunswick. It is primarily an undergraduate liberal arts and science university.
International students pay $22,830 CAD for tuition and fees. Scholarships and bursaries are available, including renewable major entrance scholarships up to $5,000 CAD.
Sackville is a small town, with affordable housing options for students. Shared accommodations can cost between $400-$600 CAD per month. Other living expenses like groceries and supplies are lower than in major metropolitan areas.
5. Lakehead University
With campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead University offers undergraduate and graduate programs at affordable rates. International tuition starts at $22,000 CAD for undergraduate studies.
All eligible international students receive a $2,000 CAD International Entrance Scholarship. Lakehead also provides renewable scholarships, bursaries, and campus work programs.
Both Thunder Bay and Orillia have low costs of living, especially compared to Toronto and other big cities. Shared student apartments often rent for $500 CAD/month or less. Food, transit, and other costs are very reasonable.
Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is based in Kamloops, British Columbia. International undergraduate tuition starts at $22,680 CAD per year.
The TRU World International Entrance Award offers $2,500 CAD for new international students. Other bursaries and scholarships provide additional support after enrolling.
Kamloops enjoys a relatively mild climate and close access to the outdoors. Shared apartments in the area often rent for $500 CAD or less per bedroom. Public transit, food, and other daily costs are lower than in Vancouver.
READ ALSO: 13 Great Reasons You Should Study in Canada
University of Saskatchewan
The beautiful University of Saskatchewan campus is located in Saskatoon. International undergraduate tuition starts at $22,500 CAD per year.
All incoming international students are eligible for entrance scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 CAD.
Saskatoon has an affordable cost of living, with cheaper rents and expenses compared to major metro regions. International students can find housing for around $500 CAD per month, and take advantage of student discounts.
University of Regina
The University of Regina is a public university located in the capital city of Saskatchewan. International undergraduate tuition starts at $21,000 CAD annually.
They offer the UR International Entrance Scholarships for high school students, valued between $5,000-$15,000 CAD over 4 years. All eligible international students are guaranteed a minimum $5,000 CAD scholarship. Other bursaries and campus jobs are available after enrolling.
Regina is an affordable city in Canada’s prairie region. Shared apartments near campus rent for around $400-$600 CAD per month. Costs for public transit, food, and entertainment are generally low for students.
Located in Brandon, Manitoba, Brandon University is primarily an undergraduate institution with smaller class sizes. International tuition ranges from $18,000-$19,500 CAD annually.
The BU International Student Entrance Scholarship offers $5,000 CAD for eligible students. They also provide ambassador awards, international bursaries, and global engagement opportunities.
Brandon is a small, close-knit university town with lower costs of living. You can easily find rental apartments for $500 CAD/month. Groceries, transit, and other student expenses are very reasonable.
Université de Moncton
The largest French-language university outside of Quebec, Université de Moncton has campuses in Moncton, Edmundston, and Shippagan. Undergraduate international tuition starts at around $17,000 CAD annually.
Scholarships and bursaries are available, including renewable entrance scholarships starting at $2,000 CAD. These help make the university affordable for French-speaking international students.
Moncton and Edmundston have low costs of living, especially compared with major cities like Montreal. Shared student apartments can be found for $500 CAD per month, keeping housing budgets reasonable.
Two Standout Affordable Canadian Universities for International – Case Studies
Now let’s take a deeper look at two universities highlighted on this list that offer exceptional value for international students:
1. Memorial University of Newfoundland
As one of the most affordable Canadian universities for international students, Memorial University of Newfoundland is an obvious choice for budget-minded students.
With undergraduate international tuition around $8,600 CAD, it is a fraction of what other top schools charge. They also provide entrance scholarships specifically for international students through the School of Graduate Studies.
While remote, the island location helps keep costs low across the board. Shared student apartments go for well under $500/month in St. John’s. Groceries, eating out, and transportation are noticeably cheaper than in other cities.
Beyond costs, Newfoundland is known as Canada’s friendliest province. The university prides itself on collaboration and community. Students find it easy to thrive, thanks to the welcoming culture and tight-knit environment.
For international students seeking world-class education on a tight budget, Memorial University is hard to beat. You get all the benefits of studying in Canada for a relative bargain.
University of Winnipeg
Centrally located and surrounded by nature, the University of Winnipeg provides international students with excellent value. With undergraduate international tuition around $18,890 CAD per year, it costs far less than bigger Canadian universities.
Scholarships like the President’s Scholarship for World Leaders ($5,000 CAD) and other financial aid help reduce costs further. Students also benefit from free transit in Winnipeg through the U-Pass program.
Manitoba’s affordable living costs mean your money stretches further. Shared apartments near campus rent for $500 CAD per month or less. Food, nights out, winter gear, and other student essentials cost noticeably less than in Toronto or Vancouver.
The University of Winnipeg stands out for its social justice focus and close-knit campus community. Smaller classes mean more personalized attention. For international students seeking an affordable but high-quality education in Canada, the University of Winnipeg delivers.
Tips for Stretching Your Budget as an International Student While in These Affordable Canadian Universities
While the universities mentioned above are among the most affordable, you will still have expenses to cover. Here are some tips to save money as an international student in Canada:
- Find part-time on or off-campus jobs – Universities often have plenty of openings for tutors, assistants, retail workers, and more. You can work up to 20 hours during school terms.
- Learn to budget and track your spending – Pack lunches, shop sales, and cook in to control food costs. Split costs on large purchases like winter coats with roommates.
- Take advantage of student discounts – Sign up for an International Student Identity Card to get discounts on travel, shopping, groceries, and entertainment.
- Explore affordable housing – Look for student residences, shared apartments, and basement rentals to save on accommodations. Live a little further from downtown to pay lower rents.
- Use university resources – Borrow textbooks for free, go to campus events, and utilize health/counseling services to save money.
A frugal lifestyle will stretch your budget further as an international student in Canada.
How to Apply to Any of These Affordable Canadian Universities as an International Student
If you are set on studying in Canada, what is the process to apply as an international student? Here is a quick overview:
- Research programs and universities – Compare programs, rankings, and costs to create a list of top choices that fit your budget.
- Check admission requirements – International students need proof of English proficiency (IELTS or TOEFL), transcripts, essays, and letters of reference.
- Submit your application – Apply directly through the university website or use a platform like ApplyBoard. Pay attention to deadlines.
- Obtain your study permit – After receiving an acceptance letter, apply for a Canadian study permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
- Make travel arrangements – Book your flights, airport pickup, and first night’s hotel. Coordinate with your school’s international office.
- Apply for on-campus housing – Submit housing applications even before accepting your offer to improve your chances of getting into residences.
These steps will help you succeed in your application journey. Check university websites for full details and requirements for international applicants.
An Affordable Education Within Reach
Canada offers high-quality education and friendly multicultural cities – but as an international student, affordability may be your biggest worry. That’s why it is so crucial to choose universities that offer lower tuition combined with scholarships, bursaries, and affordable living.
This article showed that even on a limited budget, you have great options in Canada. Memorial University, University of Winnipeg, and other schools highlighted here deliver a first-rate education at a fraction of the price of top-tier schools. Their locations in smaller cities or remote regions help reduce living costs substantially.
With some meticulous planning, an affordable Canadian university education is within your reach. Take time to thoroughly research costs, scholarships, and budget-friendly locations to find your perfect fit. The long-term rewards of graduating from an internationally respected Canadian university make it a wise investment in your future.
About the Author:
Augustine Madujadugwo Okoli is an educationist with a flair for working with international students. He is passionate about making quality global learning accessible. Augustine studies market trends to find affordable study destinations for students on tight budgets.
Let us know your thoughts on affordable Canadian universities for international students in the comments! Are you considering Canada for your degree? What other factors are important to you as an international student?
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