Debt-saddled students expecting to double down

Fears for the future are leading them to seek even higher education

Debt-saddled students expecting to double down
Because of the increased costs of education, many students are taking on debt. But concerns about employability are making that seem like a gamble — and pushing some to double down.

A new poll by CIBC has found that 74% of Canadian post-secondary students believe they will need to undergo supplementary training after they graduate.

“[T]hey're worried about finding a well-paying job after graduation, and the need for more training and higher costs of some degrees is adding to the already high education bill,” said CIBC Imperial Service Vice President David Nicholson.

The trend of ballooning educational costs isn’t new, but many still appear to be getting caught wrong-footed. Among those polled, 41% of students have no savings, and 67% have no RESP to support their needs.

The post-secondary students polled spend an average of around $14,000 a year and are expecting to accumulate some $30,000 in debt by the time they finish their current program. The price tag is bigger for those in high-demand, higher-paying disciplines; students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses expect to owe around $43,000 by the time they graduate.

But while they expect to have a higher debt load than their peers, STEM students also felt more confident about securing a well-paying job (59% vs. 42%). More and more students are also realizing the importance of specialization, with 80% agreeing that an undergraduate degree is not enough and 82% preferring “an education or degree that includes job-specific skills, certification or vocational training” over a purely academic one.

Long-term concerns are also weighing more on their minds. Among students returning to school, 47% are worried about finding a job after graduation, 22% are concerned about their debt, and 18% are anxious over tuition and living expenses.

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