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Making the most of your money as a student

Higher education can sometimes feel like a financial minefield, but as a student at Concordia University of Edmonton (CUE) you can receive help from a Financial Aid Advisor and gain access to a wide variety of resources and opportunities so you can make the most out of your money. 

As the cost-of-living increases and interest rates rise, you may be thinking about your financial situation.  “Financial literacy is having the skills and knowledge to manage money effectively so you can fulfill your goals,” says Margie Schoepp, Financial Aid and Awards Coordinator. 

“Some spending is essential, you need to eat, get around, pay for school and keep a roof over your head,” but Margie says it’s a student’s job to correctly identify what is not “essential.” 

Here’s a closer look at how you can stretch your dollar further as a student.


Leverage your Student I.D. for savings

Your student I.D. isn’t just for campus access; it can be a passport to various discounts as well. Many local businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues offer discounts to students, so don’t be shy about asking. Retailers like Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe offer student discounts on technology. You can save on food, fashion, tech and more at other retail outlets with the SPC card. Get your membership today at spccard.ca and use school code 128000. By taking advantage of these discounts, you’ll find the savings can quickly add up. 


Apply for scholarships

There is a plethora of scholarships available that you might not be aware of. Some are academic-based or based on community involvement, while others are meant for students who belong to certain cultural groups or demographics. The Government of Alberta provides a comprehensive list of available scholarships and bursaries on their website. Remember, to also visit CUE’s scholarships page. Take some time to investigate these opportunities; you might find considerable funds that can help reduce your educational expenses.


Use the Government of Canada ‘Budget Planner’

The Government of Canada Budget Planner is a highly useful tool that allows you to create a customized budget in just three steps. You simply gather your income and expenses data, and the tool does the rest. If you don’t have all your information on hand, you can save your work and continue later. Creating a budget not only shows you where your money is going but also helps you prioritize. “Once you have a clear picture of your financial situation, adjust your personal spending plan to achieve your financial goals,” Margie advises. 


Managing student debt

Before taking on debt of any kind, carefully consider whether it aligns with your financial goals. Not all debts are created equal. For instance, student loans may be considered ‘good debt’ as they increase your future earning potential. On the other hand, debt accrued from discretionary expenses, such as vacations or furniture purchases, is generally considered ‘bad debt’ as these items depreciate over time. 

“Even if you are a diligent saver, at some point you may have to borrow money to cover a large expense… Borrowing isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as long as you know how to compare loans, maintain a healthy credit score, and have a plan to pay it back,” says Margie. 


1. Save for your financial goals. Start saving now, even if the amount seems insignificant. A small amount saved regularly can grow into a substantial sum over time.


2. Use your credit card responsibly. Credit cards can be a helpful tool, but they can also lead to financial trouble if not used wisely. Pay off your balance in full every month to avoid paying interest.


3. Avoid “Buy now, pay later” plans. These can seem tempting, but they often result in paying more in the long run due to high interest and fees.


4. Reduce your banking fees. Many banks offer student accounts with lower fees. Shop around and find the best deal to suit your needs. Remember to also set up electronic alerts from your bank to keep track of your bank account balance and avoid overdraft fees.


5. Look for ways to increase your income. This could mean taking on a part-time job, freelance work, or even exploring passive income options.


6. Prepare and bring your own meals from home – steer clear of costly dining options when you’re on the go.


7. Use coupons and take advantage of discount days. Every dollar counts when you’re on a budget. 


8. Skip high priced memberships. Engage in outdoor sports with friends, go for walks, or explore free fitness classes on campus, and visit the CUE campus gym, free to students. 


9. Opt for second-hand purchases. Save money on textbooks, clothing, and furniture by buying used items. Local garage sales, online platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji, and thrift stores are treasure troves for budget-friendly finds. Don’t forget to also mark your calendars for the Concordia Student Association textbook market in September and January each year. 


10. Discover free or low-cost events. Check CUE’s bulletin boards on campus and events calendar for postings or explore online platforms for community gatherings and cultural events. 


Enrolling as a student at CUE presents a remarkable chance to enhance your financial literacy and fully utilize available resources. Our dedicated team at the Student & Enrolment Services are ready to assist you when needed. For any inquiries regarding your financial wellbeing, please don’t hesitate to reach out at finaid@concordia.ab.ca.

Meet your Financial Aid Advisors

Margie Schoepp – Financial Aid & Awards Coordinator

About Me: I’ve been helping students with their funding since 2005. I love travelling, quilting and cycling and once journeyed 2000+km down the west coast on a bicycle built for two.

My goal for you:  Your financial well-being matters.  I want you to develop the financial knowledge and skills so that you can make effective decisions about your finances and live a happy life within your means.


Lynne Gillingham – Financial Aid Advisor

About Me: I am originally from B.C. and have family on both coasts in Canada – Halifax & Nanaimo.

My goal for you: I am here to connect you to financial aid resources which can improve your post-secondary experience. I look forward to meeting you!


Jennifer Anderson – Financial Aid Advisor

About Me: (she/her) I have a love for animals and the outdoors! Through the summer you can catch me going for a hike or trying out my new SUP!

My goal for you: Having a financial plan is critical to your success at CUE. I am here to help you understand the resources that are available to you. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela