Working to learn: Meeting university and college costs (2006)

Lessons in Learning – June 29, 2006

The cost of postsecondary education in Canada has risen sharply since the early 1990s. While larger student loans are covering some of the increased cost, most postsecondary students are relying on employment income and personal savings as their principal source of funds.

This document outlines a Statistics Canada analysis, commissioned by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL), of trends in student employment. It suggests that student earnings are lagging behind rising tuition fees.

The authors note that the primary government response to rising tuition fees has been to enhance student loan programs, an approach that Statistics Canada’s analysis suggests has been effective in maintaining postsecondary participation rates while tuition fees rise and student employment earnings stagnate.

The student response has included working longer hours and making use of the greater availability of student loans. As devoting too much time to paid employment can hurt academic performance, it is important to ensure that student loan programs keep pace with the rising cost of postsecondary education.

In recent years, the provinces have also enhanced their student loan programs. There has, however, been a concurrent trend toward shifting student aid away from non-repayable grants and toward repayable loans. This may discourage postsecondary participation among low-income students particularly, who already have lower participation rates than those from more affluent families.

If Canadians wish to remain competitive in the knowledge economy, it is important to maintain an affordable and accessible postsecondary education system.

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APA citation
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL). Working to learn: Meeting university and college costs 2006. Web. 28 Feb. 2021 <>
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) (2006). Working to learn: Meeting university and college costs. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from
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