09/04/2012 10:06 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. Students Warned To Stick To Budgets

Financial advisors are warning British Columbia's students moving out on their own for the first time to stick to a budget, as figures reveal B.C. leads the country in consumer debt levels.

While the average consumer in B.C. is shouldering debt of $37,000, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada estimates the cost of a four-year degree in terms of rent, food and other expenses is more than double this amount at $77,000.

Of the 6,500 students who moved into residence at the University of British Columbia over the Labour Day weekend, many first-year students admit their budgeting skills leave much to be desired.

Mila Mezei, who is embarking on a four-year degree, says just managing her money for the first time away from home presents be a steep learning curve.

"I guess just figuring everything out and, I don't know, there's some nerves with everything," she said.

Diane McCurdy, a financial planner in Vancouver, recommends students keep a tight rein on their finances.

"You have to really guard your money jealously, manage it carefully and if you come out of university with as little debt as possible, it's such a big leg up," she said.

McCurdy encourages students who take loans to only spend the money on education-related expenses.