Law School Costs in Canada

Check out this very interesting development that a good friend of mine started, Access to Justice, which de-constructs the accessibility of law school in Canada, particularly in Ontario.

Get more information here: Access to Justice.

I think it is especially relevant for this blog as non-profit work is not limited to front-line workers. There is a huge need for accessible lawyers for all of us to be able to be fairly and equitably represented, not to mention the huge social justice work that is needed on a policy (read: law-based) level.

Law has some serious class and privilege inherent in not only entry, but admissions, tuition and future career choices. I totally echo these sentiments for medicine, and hopefully sometime soon I’ll have more time to get into my personal views on medicine and class. In the mean time, check out this great work, and if you are in law school or a lawyer yourself please get involved!


Back to School

Since July 23rd I have officially been back to school!

Which means back to:

  • Studying
  • Paying tuition
  • and most importantly,

Trying to figure out this new schedule!

I know I have been very quiet. On my end I’m not bananas busy but working on going from 9-5 for the last 3-ish years back to 8-6 of classes and studying my brains out on top of it (and occasionally dissecting brains as well). I’m also not sure about writing a blog called Prosperous Not for Profit when I’m no longer in the nonprofit world. Maybe I’ll just carry on with the occasional sexual health + money stuff and you all can dig it? Maybe not, but I’ll work on it and I will do my best to either keep this a regular thing or be transparent about my priorities.

Also I’m unsure about what you all would think about watching me accrue more debt!

What should I do with the blog folks? Would you still read it even as I become a raccoon-eyed medical student living on the dream of scholarships and income to come?

Using Planned Savings

I have written a lot about my big tuition planned savings goal. I have written (and thought) much less about how I’m actually going to use this money I had saved up.

Obviously on tuition, but I hadn’t thought about all the little things that have to be taken care of before school even starts. ($6000 will not cover even one semester of tuition anyways.)

My plan is to track my spending as I withdrawal money from my planned savings account.

This is what I have so far:

Tuition for 2014 Date Activity Balance Reason
  2014-05-13 6619.7 6000  
  2014-05-16 -507.5 6112.2 deposit
  2014-05-19 -65 6047.2 first aid
  2014-05-20 -85 5962.2 immunizations
    -498 5464.2 trip to see mom/dad
    -90.28 5373.92 flowers for references
    -40.5 5333.42 agenda/file folder
    -144 5189.42 purse
    -85 5104.42 flats, two shirts


And yes, I’ve been a bad (but honest) personal finance blogger by tracking even the not-so-essential school expenses I’ve ‘expensed’ from this tuition account so far.

My theory is by carrying over this explicit spending tracking into the planned spending account I will be more honest about

a) Where the money is going and b) How much I actually have.

I have spent a good chunk so far.

Yes, I didn’t need a number of these things, but they do directly relate to school and I did not use a credit card or any credit to buy them, so I do not feel guilty at all!

I’m unsure about whether or not to use this money for living expenses in the weeks leading up to school or not, but perhaps I’ll write about that later.

Regardless, expect regularly spending tracking reports from this planned savings account in the future! I encourage you to do the same!

You counted every dollar saving it, you should also make sure you track where it goes!

Checking in with my student debt

Something that I know has been clearly absent from this personal finance blog is a daily debt ticker, fastidious determination to pay down any and all debt and constant reminders to others that you need to get your debt paid off.

I know I’ve spent far little time even in my own life thinking about student debt.

Earlier in this blog I made a informed decision to forgo throwing piles of money on my student debt this year and have been working at building up savings for a return to school. I was (and am from time to time) conflicted about this choice. At the end of the day for me, it didn’t quite make sense to pay down student debt aggressively and then go back to school and accrue more student debt.

I am currently paying a modest $300/month to my remaining $15000+ student debt from undergrad and saving at least $700/month for possible future tuition.

This was my choice and I know it is not the best choice for everyone, and also it is not the best financial choice for me just in terms of return on investment.

So let’s dig deeper into my weird decision to postpone paying off my student debt and see how much this has cost me so far this year.

2014-01-15 Payment – Thank You -$300.00 -$72.95 -$227.05 $15,535.49
2014-02-15 Payment – Thank You -$300.00 -$71.89 -$228.11 $15,307.38
2014-03-15 Payment – Thank You -$300.00 -$63.98 -$236.02 $15,071.36
2014-03-22 Closing Balance       $15,071.36

The green numbers are my payments, and the red is the interest I have paid this year.

For 2014 so far, I’ve paid $900 towards this debt, with only $691.18 going towards the principle and $208.82 to interest. Yes my interest is going down, which is good.

But I still pay $2.25 a day in interest!

That’s 23.2% of my repayment just gone. That’s a lot of interest!

I do get a tax refund on repaying my student debt, but that is only 15% of how much interest I pay.

My short term plan is to save up for potential school, try to get as little debt as possible in school and then when I graduate just pay down all my student debt as soon as possible, in hopefully 1-5 years (depending on if I go to graduate school or medical school)

I think it’s really important for you to do this with all of your debt, especially your student debt. Student debt is sometimes seen as ‘good debt’ and it’s relatively low interest rate compared to credit card debt I think sometimes lulls people into a false sense of security.

Figure out a debt repayment plan that works for you, for all of your debt. Don’t forget about your student debt!

Grad Tuition Revisited

My biggest goal this year is to save $6000 for potential tuition*.

I’m really motivated and excited about this, and have been progressing at a great pace. I’m learning that I’m much more motivated for savings goals that debt repayment goals, which is interesting considering they have similar effects on my net worth. (Debt repayment actually being a bit better through reducing interest payments.) But alas, I’ll play the cards I’m dealt.

Currently I’m at just over $2834, or 47.2% of this goal!

I’m very excited about this progress and to boost my motivation I did some research to double check the cost of doing a 2 years masters degree at the school I applied to.

First Year School Costs

Tuition: $5583.12

Fees (health plan, UPASS, student levy’s, etc): $1327.11 * I could opt out of the health plan each year and save approx $500*

Books: (my own estimate): $500

Total: $7410.23

Second Year Costs

Tuition: $1611.30

Fees (health plan, UPASS, etc): $1327.11 * see above

Hopefully no books since I’ll be writing a thesis

Total: $2938.41

Program Total: $10 348.64

Wah Wah.

Over two years, it works out to $5174.32 each year, which totally works given my $6000 savings goal.

BUT, as you can see this school as a unique fee structure that puts 75% of the cost in the first year. I do actually appreciate that, especially since thesis-writing folks don’t go to classes/use as much school-based resources, but it does mean that the first year will be over $7410. That would make me $1410 short in that year.

Yes, this doesn’t include any potential scholarships or bursaries, but I am much to superstitious to even consider that. Maybe I would get one or many, that range from $500-$30,000. This time around in school though I would much rather be over-prepared (and over-saved) than be short.

As a result I’m considering boosting my savings goal to $7000 at least.

I’m thinking that to do this I may take $100 from debt repayment (I know, I know) and put it towards my savings goal every month, so it would mean I would be putting $600/month towards tuition, $100/month for travel and $300/month for student loan repayment. Between now and August, not even counting a tax refund or any bonus money like GST cheques, that would put me at around $7063 for tuition.

I think I’m going to try to do this for the next three months just to see. These three months will also hopefully include my tax refund so knowing that amount will also help me plan better.

Or by then I might know more clearly about admissions/scholarships, but who knows!

What do you think of this plan? I’m always thinking up different scenarios to juggle my current student loan and future potential tuition (and as a result hopefully greater earning potential).

*I’m actually pretty superstitious about writing this post because what if I don’t get in at the end? I’m trying not to think about that, but the plan would be to divert at least half of this saved money towards paying my student loan, if not all of it. *