Achieving A+ Finances

Student in Quad in summer

Just like you have to study to succeed in your classes, brushing up on your financial knowledge can greatly help in creating a strong financial future. We’re here to help you score big on your financial journey.

Before making any financial decision, please consult a financial advisor to ensure it is recommended for your individual circumstance.

Building a Strong Scholarship Application

Receiving a scholarship or award can greatly relieve some of the financial burden associated with schooling, so we want to help you be successful. Here are our tips to write a strong application:

  1. Provide specific examples of your leadership achievements. We are looking for more than general volunteerism.
  2. Tell us how your leadership experiences have helped you grow.
  3. Explain how you have motivated and inspired others.
  4. Describe the depth of involvement you had in the leadership activities.
  5. Explain how your leadership efforts have made a positive impact in an organization, your school, or your community.
  6. Demonstrate your progression within leadership activities.
  7. Be creative! Creativity can set you apart from other applicants.
  8. Choose a reference that has worked directly with you or supervised you in your leadership role. It should be someone who can give specific examples and has first-hand knowledge of your leadership experience.
To apply for these competitions and to view eligibility requirements, visit our Undergraduate Scholarships webpage.
Feeling Positive About Your Finances

Financial stress can sneak up on you and have negative impacts on your academic success, and we want to help! Check out our list of ways you can feel more optimistic and informed about your financial situation:

  1. Don't overanalyze balances owing unless you are going to make a payment: Often we will sit and stare at our outstanding debts and let the stress build. Staring at your debt isn't going to fix the problem. It's important to acknowledge your debt, but only continue looking at what you owe when you are going to set up a payment plan or make a payment.
  2. Identify your financial stress points: If having a high credit card balance keeps you up at night, put your credit card away for a couple months and only use your debit card. If you find yourself stressing over impulse purchases, try taking out a certain amount of cash per week and only allow yourself to spend that amount.
  3. Create a financial emergency plan: Check out these tips on getting through a financial emergency
  4. Take steps to understand your finances: Getting a better grasp of how to be financially successful can help you feel in control of your situation. Take the Government of Canada’s Financial Literacy Quiz to see how your knowledge and financial literacy skills stack up, or visit the Canadian Financial Literacy Database for resources, events, tools, and information on various financial topics including budgeting, money management, insurance, saving, investing, and taxes.
  5. Make one financial decision at a time: Don't try to solve every problem at once. Making too many choices can elevate your stress. Try implementing one new financial change per month. That will give you time to get used to one change before implementing another.
  6. Avoid temptation: Limit the amount of time you spend at places you like to spend money. If you know there's one store in particular you have to buy something at every time you go, reduce your visits and you will likely reduce your spending.
  7. Don't be afraid to ask for support: If you have questions about student funding options, contact the Student Service Centre. If you are experiencing financial stress, contact the Credit Counselling Society. Consider reaching out to a family member or friend to discuss how you're feeling. They may have been through a similar situation and can provide advice on how they overcame it!
Tackling Your Taxes

There are a lot of important steps involved in filing your taxes, and it can become confusing to ensure you are on the right track. Here are our tips to get started:

  1. Get an overview of your tax filing obligations here.
  2. If you typically complete your taxes using computer software, make sure the software is NETFILE certified so your tax return can be securely submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency directly.
  3. If you haven't already filed your taxes, here is a list of important documents you will need to have prepared:
    • T4 Slip - You will / should have received this tax slip from your employer.
    • T4A Slip - You will receive a T4A if you received scholarships, bursaries, prizes, or awards.
    • T2202A Slip - You will receive this from the University of Alberta and/or any other institutions you were enrolled in and paid tuition at during the previous academic year.
    • If you took an exam for a professional certification, you may be able to include this on your tax return, as long as you have the receipt.
    • If you have children, you may be able to claim some childcare expenses, as long as you have the receipts.

We understand that filing your taxes can feel overwhelming, but even if it may feel easier to just avoid doing them altogether, there are a number of reasons it's important that you do:

  1. They are needed for student loans: You can't apply for government student loans without having filed your previous year's taxes.
  2. You can carry over your tuition credits: When you're a student at a post-secondary institution, you receive a T2202A form that outlines the tuition fees you paid. This amount is a tax deduction. Because it's unlikely that you will need to use your Tuition Tax Credit while you're a student, you can carry this amount over to future years so you can save on taxes once you're in the working world! This amount is also transferable (up to a maximum) so if a family member is supporting your education financially, you can transfer the credit to them.
  3. You may be eligible for GST / HST credit: This is meant to help low and middle-income families or individuals handle the additional cost of taxes on goods and services. This credit is paid out four times a year - free money! If you don't file your taxes, you will not receive this credit.
  4. It allows you to build up your RRSP contribution room: Each year, there is a maximum you can contribute to your RRSP (18% of your earned income, for 2021), but if you don't contribute, this amount carries over to future years. This means once you are in a financial position to start contributing to your RRSP, you will be able to contribute that year's maximum as well as any carry over from the previous years. If you don't file your taxes, you won't get this carry over room!
  5. You can claim the interest charged on any government student loans you are currently re-paying: If you don't currently need to use this tax credit, the claimed amount can be carried over to future years.
  6. You may be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit (CFB): If you have children under the age of 18, you may be eligible for this monthly payment made to families from the government. The CRA uses information from your tax return to determine your payment amount. You can't receive this benefit without filing your taxes each year.

There are likely other benefits based on your individual circumstances. Please note that everyone's situation is unique and may require additional information / documents.

Securing a Side Hustle

Find yourself in need of a little extra cash? There are a number of ways to up your earnings with these side hustles:

  1. Have stuff sitting around you no longer use? One person's trash is another person's treasure. Consider selling the items you no longer use online, or throw a garage sale with some friends!
  2. Is your neighborhood bustling with pets? Consider starting your own dog walking business for the summer! It's easy and you can make your own schedule. Or try advertising a pet sitting service.
  3. Consider offering babysitting services during your free time.
  4. Offer tutoring services for high school students. They are still in school for another month!
  5. Have a hobby you absolutely love doing but haven't had the chance to turn it into a money making opportunity? Now's the time!
  6. Sometimes the best way to make money is to stop spending money. Put some time aside to go through your finances and see where you can cut costs. Identify your spending habits!
  7. Oftentimes through the year, yards are in need of a clean-up. Offer your services cleaning windows, painting fences, thatching and raking, cleaning up after pets, etc.