They're also afraid they won't be able to pay back debt once they graduate because they're concerned about finding a well-paying job, a poll issued by CIBC (TSX: CM) shows.
But experts say learning to keep finances in check is a lesson that will go far in helping students manage their money so they don't graduate owing a huge amount.
The online poll, conducted among 992 randomly chosen post-secondary students who are Angus Reid Forum panellists, took place from July 27 to 29.
The poll shows 48 per cent of students are most worried about covering tuition and living expenses for the upcoming school year as well as repaying school-related debt, of which 36 per cent expect to be $25,000 or more when they graduate.
Some 37 per cent of post-secondary students say finding a job that pays well after graduation is a top concern.
The poll also finds that students, most of whom expect to spend $10,000 to $30,000 a year for schooling (tuition and books) and personal expenses, (rent and entertainment), anticipate a lot less help this year from parents. They expect their parents will cover 22 per cent of tuition and school costs, down from 33 per cent in a similar poll last year.
About 34 per cent say they will support themselves with jobs. Five per cent of respondents were concerned about finding and keeping part-time employment.
As many as 37 per cent of post-secondary students say they don't know if they'll be able to manage their finances after they finish school, with about one-fifth not expecting to be able to support themselves financially.
"Having a clear picture of your expenses today, as well as what your debt payments will look like when the time comes to pay back your loan, will help you feel ready for the future," says Christina Kramer, executive vice-president of retail and business banking at CIBC.
Sit down with parents or a financial adviser and consider costs involved in a post-secondary education. Create a plan that outlines how much the student will cover (including from loans, scholarships and bursaries and part-time jobs) and how much the parents will contribute (including from registered education savings plans or other savings).
Many financial institutions offer mobile apps so you can keep track of account transactions and balances.
The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.11 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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