Is College Free in Canada? (2023)

Moving to Canada to attend college is an interesting option for sure. Canada is overall cheaper, and with comparable quality of life to the United States.

But is college free in Canada?

The short answer is no.

There are, however, some caveats to consider. Even if it isn’t entirely free, you can expect to pay a lot less compared to the US for similar training.

Is it a viable option to study in Canada? Absolutely. Does it make sense for your situation? Perhaps.

In this article, we are going to analyze in-depth the costs of college in Canada, and if you should consider going there.

College in Canada isn’t the Same as in the United States

Before getting into the monetary stuff, it is important to make a distinction, especially if you are going to ask questions to a Canadian person.

While college and university are pretty much synonyms in the United States, they are different schools in Canada. The Canadian equivalent is simply called university. College is a completely different type of school. They are more like vocational schools, and they are more focused on teaching a job. Think trade schools / college juniors.

(Video) Is Education Really Free in Canada? | Schools in Canada

Editor’s note: For the sake of the article, when you read college, assume we’re talking about universities. We are going with the general accepted US meaning.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend College in Canada?

College in Canada isn’t free. But it’s way more affordable than in the United States. For comparison, the average yearly tuition in the US is about $32.000, while the average yearly tuition in Canada is about $5.000.

Naturally, there are many factors influencing the prices, as these are the averages.

There are colleges in the US where you can pay up to $80.000-90.000 per year. But there are also colleges that are way more affordable. Still, even the cheapest US universities can’t compare to average Canadian ones when it comes to affordability.

But there’s a catch.

The average tuition fee we reported only applies to residents. If you are an international student, don’t expect to pay less than $20.000/year as a tuition.

It’s still cheaper than the US by a wide margin, and living in Canada is cheaper too. But the option might lose some of its appeal. Still, studying abroad is a great way to open your mind and get in touch with different cultures.

There Is a Way to Attend College for Free in Canada

It is, in fact, way easier to attend college for free in Canada thanks to the many scholarships available to both local and international students.

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Let’s take a quick look at the two most interesting scholarships for international students in Canada.

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

  • What: a full scholarship for doctoral studies in any field
  • Who: both local and international students
  • How: you have to inform the faculty you want to apply for the program, or get nominated by it. You can’t apply directly for this scholarship.

Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS)

  • What: a full scholarship for doctoral studies in any field
  • Who: this scholarship is exclusively for international students
  • How: students get selected by the faculty. You can’t directly apply to the program. You can only notify the institution you are interested in the scholarship. They will evaluate your situation by themselves.

Warning: this program is currently suspended. We expect it to come back once the COVID situation has been sorted out.

There are many other scholarship programs available for international students who wish to study in Canada. But generally, they only offer some economic benefits, without covering the entire tuition fee. This means you’ll still have to pay some money to attend these schools.

Still, they could be enough for you to decide to study abroad. If you want to look deeper into these programs, look for the Nelson Mandela Award by the University of Toronto, and the F.A. Davis Scholarship for nursing.

How to Get a Scholarship

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students. So, the obvious answer would be: “become an outstanding student!”.


A student is considered outstanding because of its academic and life achievements. It’s not enough to be a model student with high grades. Scholarships are competitive, you need to prove that investing on you is worth it to the institution.

Start with your grades. If your GPA is lower than 3.0 don’t even bother. The closer to 4.0, the better. Then, consider your extracurricular activities. Which ones are the most likely to impress the administration?

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If you, like me, are a beer pong champion, you probably don’t want to put it in your resume. But if you do volunteering, or excel at a sport, then by all means add these relevant facts about yourself in your application.

Also, prepare a killer essay. There are many guides on the Internet on how to do it, but the general gist of it is that you want to demonstrate your dedication to the school. This is the best way to prove you’ll be an investment for the institution granting your scholarship, so craft a great essay. It’s your ticket to the money.

Why Study in Canada?

Canada is an interesting place to study in. It’s overall cheaper than the US, with a comparable quality of living.

The country has two official languages, so if you’re enamored with how French sounds, you can kill two birds with one stone and learn the ropes of the language. Just don’t expect everyone to actually know French.

Canada is also way more peaceful than the US as a country. It’s probably because fewer people live there, but it’s not just that. Canadians in general are more peaceful than US residents, so if you’re looking to get away from a noisy environment, Canada might be an excellent choice.

Studying abroad is a wonderful experience, since you get the opportunity to get in contact with different cultures. It’s a great way to open up your mind to the blessings of this world. You’ll learn so much about yourself and get a different perspective on life.

The Downsides of Studying in Canada

There are, of course, downsides to studying in Canada as well.

The biggest one is that employers might not take a college degree from Canada as seriously as one from the United States. While these types of employers have their reasons, I think they’re a bit too overzealous in their judgments. They are a dying breed for sure.

(Video) Is college in Canada free?

You probably don’t want to work for these people anyway. If they judge your worth because of where you got your degree, they aren’t very bright.

Still, it’s absolutely a factor to consider. If employment is your number 1 priority, nothing will beat a US college.

Another potential issue is housing. Yes, Canada is cheaper than the US, but you still need to find housing, and living is expensive no matter where you go. At least, in first world countries.

Last, the paperwork might put off lazier people. Bureaucracy is a huge turn off for many, because it feels like you are doing a lot of irrelevant stuff just because someone decided so. I understand you. Been there, done that.


Studying in Canada isn’t free, but it’s way cheaper than in the US. There are upsides and downsides to studying abroad, so my suggestion is to weigh them and understand which ones would impact you the most.

The prospect of studying abroad is super cool, and more people should do it. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to afford it. Scholarships help with that.

If you’re looking to pursue higher education, Canada is easily one of the best countries to do so.


Is college in Canada free for citizens? ›

College isn't free in Canada, but it's more affordable than in many other English-speaking countries.

Is college cheaper in Canada than us? ›

Additionally, on average, Canadian university tuition fees are 27% more economical than tuition fees at US universities. However, tuition fees are not the only factor to consider. The cost of living is also a lot lower in Canada. International students may be choosing to study in Canada because it's more affordable.

How much does college cost in Canada? ›

University costs

Tuition fees for universities vary depending on the program and school you choose. On average in Canada, university tuition costs around: $6,800 per year for international undergraduate students (Statistics Canada, 2022) $21,100 per year for international graduate students (Statistics Canada, 2022)

Is education in Canada free? ›

Is Education in Canada Free? Although there is not one single education system in Canada, basic public education is in fact free for residents of Canada until the 11th or 12th grade, depending on the province. International students, however, do have to pay the full fees.

Can a US student go to college in Canada? ›

Applying for a Study Permit

You can apply for a study permit online, or you may obtain a paper application from a visa application centre. To do this, you'll need: a valid passport, in most cases. a letter of acceptance from the college stating the program of study, including start and end dates.

What country is college free? ›

Norway. Norway offers free college tuition at all of its public universities for both Norwegians and international students. The Norwegian government funds these universities to help degree-seekers graduate with less debt.

Is it cheaper to live in Canada or the US? ›

Overall, both Canada and the US are fairly expensive to live in. Canada has much higher housing costs but healthcare costs are much more expensive in the US. While US salaries are slightly higher, Canadians have a much easier time making a higher salary with less education.

Is it cheaper for an American to live in Canada? ›

The simple answer is yes—Canada has living costs that are similar to the USA. Some things, like gas, cost more in Canada. Other things, like rent, tend to be lower, especially compared to major cities like New York or San Francisco.

Is it better to go to college in Canada or USA? ›

If rankings are important to you, colleges and universities in the United States are worth considering. Among the top 20 best global universities, 15 are in the United States. Canada's top-ranked university is number 18 on that list.

Is Canada cost of living high? ›

Cost of living in Canada compared to other countries

As of the start of 2023, Canada is the 25th most expensive country to live in in the world.

Is it expensive to live in Canada as a student? ›

A. If you compare it to other popular study destinations then studying in Canada is affordable. A student needs around C$20,000 and C$30,000 depending on the course/city to cover his tuition. Apart from this, the cost of food, living, and other living expenses will be around C$10,000.

Is college free in Europe? ›

Free college, like universal health care, is one of those things that exist in Europe that Americans love to idealize. In Europe, most universities are public and France, Germany, Sweden and Scotland don't charge fees to domestic students.

Is medical care free in Canada? ›

Canada has a universal health care system funded through taxes. This means that any Canadian citizen or permanent resident can apply for public health insurance. Each province and territory has a different health plan that covers different services and products.

How long is a school day in Canada? ›

School hours generally run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Monday to Friday. Education is free for all students in the Canadian public school system. Children must attend school until age 16 or 18, depending on the province or territory.

How long is a school year in Canada? ›

Overview. A regular school year is typically from September 1 to June 30.

What is the Harvard of Canada? ›

McGill University is Canada's second finest university, trailing only Toronto. This reflects in McGill University's status as Canada's Harvard and Toronto University's status as the country's Oxford.

How to move to Canada from US? ›

Services and information
  1. Express Entry. Immigrate as a skilled worker.
  2. Family sponsorship. Sponsor your relatives, including your spouse, partner, children, parents, grandparents, and others to immigrate.
  3. Provincial nominees. ...
  4. Quebec-selected skilled workers. ...
  5. Atlantic Immigration Program. ...
  6. Caregivers. ...
  7. Start-up Visa. ...
  8. Self-employed.
Nov 24, 2022

How hard is it to get into Canadian universities? ›

Are Canadian universities hard to get into? Generally speaking, Canadian universities can be very competitive, but the difficulty of getting in will depend on the school and your chosen program. Some schools are more competitive than others, and some faculties are harder to get into as well.

Is college free in Europe for US citizens? ›

Many European countries currently provide free college to all students regardless of family status, but that is not entirely free, as the taxpayer foots the bill.

Is there any free college in USA? ›

Alice Lloyd College provides free tuition for students from select Appalachian counties. All students are required to work at least 160 hours per credit. ADVERTISEMENT. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us.

Is college free anywhere in the US? ›

Some community colleges in the United States offer free tuition, but the vast majority are not free. As of 2022, 20 states provide tuition-free community college, meaning that if you are a resident of that state and meet certain requirements, you can attend classes free of charge.

What is minimum wage in Canada? ›

General minimum wage: $15.50 per hour. Student minimum wage: $14.60 per hour. Homeworkers minimum wage: $17.05 per hour. Hunting, fishing and wilderness guides minimum wage: A day rate of $77.60 for less than five consecutive hours of work per day, or $155.25 for five or more hours of work per day.

Is it worth moving to Canada from USA? ›

Migrating to Canada is a great opportunity to start anew. There are many reasons why it may be worth it for you and your family. Canada's multicultural society and high quality of life make the country a perfect place for immigrants. However, deciding to move from one country to another can be challenging.

How much is gas in Canada? ›

For comparison, the average price of gasoline in the world for this period is 2.51 Canadian Dollar.
Canada Gasoline prices, 06-Mar-2023.
Canada Gasoline pricesLitreGallon

How much is rent in Canada in US dollars? ›

Renting a house or apartment in Canada
City1 bed apartment in city center3 bed apartment in city center
Montreal¹1,005.06 USD1,800.31 USD
Ottawa²1,280.15 USD2,167.57 USD
Toronto³1,592.83 USD2,764.76 USD
Vancouver⁴1,674.23 USD3,299.72 USD
Feb 21, 2022

Is it easy for a US citizen to live in Canada? ›

Generally speaking, moving to Canada is not too difficult. Because Canada is open to welcoming new immigrants and offers several immigration programs, it's easier for you to qualify for one immigration stream. Still, you have to meet the requirements for the pathway you want to apply for.

How much does a house cost in Canada? ›

Canadian Cities Average House Prices April 2020
CityAverage House Price12 Month Change
Toronto, Ont$870,000+10.2 %
Ottawa, Ont$479,000+ 15.4 %
Calgary, Alb$410,000– 1.5 %
Montreal, Que$435,000+ 9.3 %
5 more rows

Why do Americans go to Canada? ›

Why do U.S. residents immigrate to Canada? Canada may be an attractive option for many U.S. residents for a plethora of reasons, most notably: Free universal healthcare: Canadians and permanent residents do not have to worry about huge medical bills. Better work-life balance: Workers in Canada enjoy shorter hours.

Is a Canadian degree valid in the US? ›

Throughout Canada's 13 provinces and territories, there are more than 150 colleges and universities. A degree, diploma or certificate from a Canadian institution is globally recognized as an equivalent to those obtained in the USA or UK.

Is Canada more educated than the US? ›

Canadian vs.

Whereas in the United States, education is seen as more competitive in their system of grading, with an emphasis on sports and physical activities. As of today, according to OECD Canada ranks 7th as the world's best country for education, in comparison to the United States, ranking 8th.

Are US salaries higher than Canada? ›

Average Salaries According to the website, the average income of an American and a Canadian are approximately the same amount. Canada's after-tax monthly income is about $3,000 which totals around $36,000per year. The U.S. sits just below Canada at approximately $2,942 per month, or roughly $35,300 per year.

How much is a gallon of milk in Canada? ›

Cost of Living in Canada
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)10.26C$
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)2.87C$
Rice (white), (1 lb)1.92C$
Eggs (regular) (12)4.13C$
62 more rows

Can an American buy a car in Canada? ›

Yes, they can, but there will be a few legal considerations (registration, license, and insurance), taxes to pay (depending on the province), and import procedures (if you take it to the U.S) to take care of, so tell the dealer your plan and ask about it all before making a purchase.

How much is rent in Canada per month? ›

Average rent in Canada per month

The average rent in Canada is $1,818 per month as of March 2022, according to

How much is average rent in Canada? ›

The National Rental Report published Tuesday said the average price for rent in November was up 2.5 per cent compared with the month before.
Average rent in Canada rose to a record $2,024 in November, new data show.
dateaverage rent price
Nov. 20191831
Dec 14, 2022

Is USA cheaper than Canada for international students? ›

A. On average, Canadian universities' tuition fees are 27% more economical than tuition fees at US universities. The tuition fee is not the only factor to consider while choosing to study. The cost of living is lower in Canada in comparison to the US for international students.

Are universities free in Mexico? ›

Tuition at public universities and technological universities and institutes is free to Mexican citizens; however, there may be fees which can be as high as $US 150 per semester. Tuition at private universities varies widely and can be very expensive, with some charging $US 20,000 or more per year.

Why is college so expensive in America? ›

Besides the effects of inflation, factors like the perception of quality and the reduction of state funding contribute to the high sticker prices of colleges and universities. It is no surprise that the United States bears the second most expensive college tuition among OECD countries (OECD, 2019).

Does Australia have free college? ›

The federal government pays universities directly the tuition for every Australian resident they educate, which means “zero cash up front” for admitted students.

Can an American buy property in Canada? ›

Canada in 2023 is closing its doors to foreign investors who want to purchase homes. A new Canadian law took effect January 1 that essentially bans foreign buyers from buying residential properties as investments for two years.

What happens if an American gets sick in Canada? ›

If during your visit to Canada you get sick or injured, the Canadian government won't pay for any hospitalization or emergency medical services for visitors. Also, if you don't have proper medical insurance coverage, you will be liable to pay for any medical service out of your own pocket.

Is healthcare cheaper in Canada or US? ›

The United States has the world's most expensive health care system. It spends about twice as much each year on every American as the Canadian system spends on Canadians. Per capita, the U.S. spends far more than Canada on drugs each year.

How long is summer break in Canada? ›

Schools in Canada usually give their students 2 months of summer break. The school year begins the first week of September and ends on the last week of June. That gives students July and August for their summer break.

Do Canadian schools have summer break? ›

Summer break in Canada typically falls in July/August. Students are expected to go back to school in late August or early September. Students will enjoy another two weeks vacation for winter break (usually beginning on Christmas and ends in New Year). Spring break also lasts for two weeks.

What are grades called in Canada? ›

In general, elementary school in Canada runs from kindergarten to grade 6, junior high or middle school runs from grades 7-8, and high school runs from grades 9-12. This varies from province to province.

Which country has the best education system? ›

No. 5: France
  • United States. #1 in Education Rankings. No Change in Rank from 2021. ...
  • United Kingdom. #2 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Germany. #3 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Canada. #4 in Education Rankings. ...
  • France. #5 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Switzerland. #6 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Japan. #7 in Education Rankings. ...
  • Sweden. #8 in Education Rankings.

How many days of summer vacation in Canada? ›

Depending on the province, students can get 2–3 months of summer vacation. This may vary in Quebec (earlier due to provincial June 24 holiday). The last day of summer vacation is Labour Day. This can vary in Private schools.

Who has the best education system in the world? ›

The USA tops the world ranking of the best education systems, and Canada secures the fourth position.

Is health care Free in Canada? ›

Canada has a universal health care system funded through taxes. This means that any Canadian citizen or permanent resident can apply for public health insurance. Each province and territory has a different health plan that covers different services and products.

Which country is best for free education? ›

Nordic nations Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden all offer opportunities to study free or at low cost: In Norway, university study is available free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality.

How much money do you need to study to Canada? ›

Funds Required Outside of Quebec
Persons coming to CanadaFunds required per year (in addition to tuition)Funds required per month (in addition to tuition)
With a family member$4,000$333
Any additional family member$3,000$255

Is it better to go to university in Canada or US? ›

If rankings are important to you, colleges and universities in the United States are worth considering. Among the top 20 best global universities, 15 are in the United States. Canada's top-ranked university is number 18 on that list.

What is the MIT of Canada? ›

Located within Canada's famous technology triangle, Waterloo is known as the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)” of Canada. In the spirit of innovation, over 40 years ago Waterloo was one of the first universities with an entire faculty dedicated to the study of environment.

What is the Yale of Canada? ›

Yale is an unincorporated town in the Canadian province of British Columbia, which grew in importance during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Front Street, Yale, British Columbia circa 1882 during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Do US citizens get free healthcare in Canada? ›

Canada does not pay for hospital or medical services for visitors. You should get health insurance to cover any medical costs before you come to Canada.


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