Dear Sandra: The Advice Column

October 2, 2002

Dear Sandra,

I’ve just started my first course at Athabasca University. It’s hard, but I’m really enjoying it. I’d like to take more courses, but money is a big problem. Are there any suggestions you can give me?

Happy but Poor

Dear Happy but Poor;

Have you ever seen a well-off university student? The majority of us are poor. Not sleeping in the streets poor, but going without a lot of extras poor. It is expensive to attend college or university, and tuition costs keep rising. As an AU student you at least have the advantage of having your books included in your tuition, think of all the even poorer University of Alberta or University of Saskatchewan students who are required to pay for their books.

If you really love doing something, there are always ways to keep doing it. If you love school, don’t give up on it; be creative.

First of all, you can try learning to do without extras. Give up convenience items, new clothes and expensive nights out. Instead, cook from scratch, shop at Value Village and rent movies. Easier said than done, I know, it takes some severe life-style adjusting.

If that still doesn’t ease your student financial woes, think of obtaining a student loan. Contact your nearest Human Resources Development Center of Canada for more information or visit their website at
Athabasca University also has financial aid advisors, check out that website at
Student loans cover more than just tuition, they can also provide you with living expense costs if you qualify. Just remember these loans have to be paid back, so try not to faint from shock when you receive your statement at the end of your 4-year education. These loans are also not payable until you are finished school.

Another suggestion is to apply for scholarships. A lot of scholarships are not awarded because there are no suitable applicants. AU has scholarships that can be viewed at
Athabasca University Students’ Union also offers scholarships, emergency loans and computer bursaries at

No matter how you pay for your education, it is expensive. There is always a way to achieve your dreams, just be frugal, creative and well informed.


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of