College in Canada Vs California: What to Consider Financially

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Opinions about college are as varied and diverse as can be. Still, anyone who’s looking into college options or currently enrolled will share this one sentiment:

A quality college education can be hard to come at a reasonable price. Students in California, in particular, know just how expensive college can be.

Between rent and expenses, living in Cali isn’t cheap either. These things can make a semester abroad, or even a full-blown international transfer, quite tempting.

If that’s your case, we’ve prepared a handy primer on comparing the costs of your college education. Find out whether attending college outside your home country is right for you.


Tuition & Financing

First off, there’s tuition. Tuition in the US is famously expensive, especially in certain regions. Averages tuitions range from $25,000 to $50,000 a year. In California, those averages can be even higher. Canadian tuition is, on average, a fraction of that amount.

Keep in mind that universities on the other side of the border see you as an international student. Tuition fees tend to be higher for international students.

Many students in California are counting on financing options to pay for their college education. If you cross the border for your education, your options are severely limited.

Most federal and state/provincial governments only offer student loans to citizens.


Room, Board, and Other Expenses

There’s also the cost of living to consider. The cost of room and board varies a lot in both nations, and all the other expenses you’re probably not thinking of yet.

You may be factoring in tuition, room and board, and books for the University of Alberta. But are you thinking of health and car insurance in Alberta, too? Public transportation? Eating out?

Living far from home means no trips for laundry at your parent’s. No borrowing pickups for moving day. The costs can really add up when you don’t have a support network to rely on.


Relocation Costs

Moving can get expensive, fast. Plane tickets are pricey. If you need a good set of suitcases, that’s more money too. Trips back home for the holidays add up over time.

You may want to buy a car if you do relocate, which continues to add to the total costs. If you’ll be living off-campus, getting a lease without a credit history is hard.

You’ll pay for your lack of history in the form of an increased security deposit. Buying clothes locally can also be expensive, so paying to ship your old clothes may be more cost-effective.



Whether you’re an American high school student contemplating college up north, or a California student pondering on a semester abroad, it’s not an easy decision.

If money is a crucial factor in your decision, research every aspect before making a call. At home or abroad, you can’t put a price on getting the best education for you.

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