Where Does Your Tuition Go?


For many students, tuition costs are a mystery. A lot of the time, we don’t stop to figure out where our additional fees go. We understand the basics: we have to pay for post-secondary courses. However, when you finally know where your money is going, you can be in charge of your purchasing power.

Here are the top 6 things that students should be looking out for in their tuition, and how to take advantage of them:


Your student union works to provide you with health, dental, optical, and travel insurance. This is an additional cost that is built into your tuition. If you already have insurance (through a parent or guardian), then this may be an extra expense that you don’t need. Additionally, you will have to “opt-out” of your benefits when you pay tuition. But, keep in mind, you can always use both insurance plans for more coverage. Visit your student union to ask them about obtaining your insurance number, where to review your coverage, and how to file a claim.

Your School Gym

Everyone pays for an automatic on-campus gym membership. Working out is a great stress reliever. And I always found it convenient to work out in between, before, or after classes. Having the gym right where you’re learning is a great time saver. I also suggest looking into what kind of free classes your school offers. Some school gyms offer yoga or open basketball time. If you don’t have the equipment, some gyms allow you to borrow them (as long as you leave your student card with them) or rent them (for a small fee). Lastly, some schools offer classes at huge discounted prices. For example, I took an 8-week kickboxing class for $28 total!

Your School Library

Every school has a library. However, if you are only planning to study there, then you aren’t taking full advantage. Your school may have multiple librarians that focus on specific fields of study. Asking your librarian to teach you how to research for your specific field is taking advantage of an underutilized service. This will make your assignment research feel like a breeze.

The library is also filled with books! For first-year students, I recommend waiting until you attend that first class before getting textbook happy. I’ve had professors explain that the textbook in their syllabus is recommended, but not required. Instead of purchasing a brand new textbook for one chapter, go borrow it from the library. Ask your librarian about course textbooks and if there are any rules for how long they can be borrowed for.

Academic Resources

For four years, I volunteered at my Alma mater. It still baffles me how oblivious my friends were to their academic resources. Contrary to popular belief, your university wants you to be successful! Some Academic Resource Centres even offer “free” workshops (you already paid for them in your tuition) that help you learn study skills. Some may provide mentors or tutors. Different schools may have writing centres that help you improve your essay writing and lab reports.

Additionally, you may discover that your school has a centre to help with mathematics. You will never know about any of these resources if you don’t ask. Book an appointment with your academic resource centre to find out what your tuition does for you. Your academic resource centre can help you map out your future courses if you plan on progressing to grad school. You don’t want to be that student who didn’t qualify for a grad program because of a few missing courses.

Career Counseling

Employers no longer want candidates who only have high GPAs. As the working field becomes more competitive, employers want a well-rounded candidate. Career Counseling can help you navigate this new job searching mindset by prepping you for interviews, searching through job portals, and reviewing your resume. These are resources that you should be taking advantage of. These resources may still be available to you for a year or two after you graduate, but it’s best to utilize them earlier than later.

Free Events

This one seems obvious, but I recommend signing up for university-run events. It could be a leadership conference, a guest speaker presentation, or a school spirit assembly. Not only is this a great way to enjoy your school for “free” (again, this is paid through your tuition), but you meet new people. I met some of my closest friends at these events. It also provides an opportunity to network with staff, which led me to new job positions and volunteer opportunities. Also, these events are usually catered (Yay! Free food!).

Paying for tuition can be a confusing process. Especially since our tuition covers more than just the cost of our courses. Take the time to review your tuition costs and really understand where that money is going. After all, if you’re paying for it, then you should use it.