Studying in Canada for Free: A Comprehensive Guide for International Students

Canada is undoubtedly a top study-abroad destination, ranking seventh-best globally. With its excellent academic institutions and post-graduation career opportunities, it’s no surprise that many international students aspire to study there. However, financial struggles, such as tuition fees and living expenses, can make this dream seem unattainable. While Canada doesn’t have tuition-free universities, there are still ways to reduce your financial burden. In this article, we’ll explore five methods to study in Canada for free or at a significantly reduced cost.

1. Apply for Scholarships from Canadian Universities

Canadian universities offer a variety of fully-funded scholarships, such as the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarships from the University of Toronto, the Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow Award and the Donald A. Wehrung International Student Award from the University of British Columbia, and the International Entrance Scholarship of Distinction from York University. These scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, achievements, and other factors.

2. Apply for Scholarships from Your Government

Another option is applying for scholarships offered by either the Canadian government or your own country. Notable scholarships include the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (for PhD students) and the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) program for ASEAN students.

3. Universities with Application Fee Waivers

While not entirely tuition-free, some Canadian universities waive their application fees for eligible international students, such as the University of British Columbia and the University of New Brunswick.

4. Work While Studying

Working part-time during your studies can help alleviate financial stress. International students in Canada are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during semesters and full-time during breaks. In-demand part-time jobs include tutors and dog walkers.

5. Virtual Programs

Online learning can save you money on relocation, commuting, and resources. Several Canadian universities, like Laurentian University and Queen’s University, offer online courses to international students. Upon graduation, you can still obtain a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) with a student permit.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much money do I need to study in Canada as an international student?
    Tuition fees vary, but you’ll likely spend between CAD$20,000 and CAD$30,000 annually. Living expenses can range from CAD$600 to CAD$800 per month.
  2. What are the requirements to study in Canada as an international student?
    Some common requirements include letters of recommendation, a resume, academic transcripts, proof of finances, proof of English proficiency, and a valid passport.
  3. How do I apply for my Canadian visa?
    Upon receiving your university acceptance letter, start applying for your Canadian study permit and gather all required documents.
  4. How can I get PR in Canada while studying?
    Options for becoming a permanent resident after graduation include the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP), Express Entry, Family Sponsorship, and Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). Basic requirements include completion of a minimum two-year program, work experience, and proof of English language proficiency.
  5. Is it hard to get a scholarship in Canada for international students?
    Securing a scholarship depends on the scholarship type and eligibility. Most scholarships are awarded based on academic achievements, and having work or volunteer experience can increase your chances. It’s important to research available scholarships and their specific requirements, as well as apply to multiple opportunities to improve your odds of receiving financial assistance.


While studying in Canada for free may not be possible for everyone, there are numerous ways to reduce your financial burden as an international student. By exploring scholarship options, working part-time, and considering online courses, you can make your dream of studying in Canada more affordable. Remember to research and apply for scholarships early, maintain a strong academic record, and be persistent in your efforts to secure financial assistance for your education.

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