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Congratulations, you have immigrated to Canada and obtained permanent resident status, or your application for immigration to Canada is in progress and you’ll be in Canada soon.

Now what are you going to do? While many newcomers to Canada begin full-time employment soon after becoming permanent residents, others take the view that upskilling in the short-term will reap long-term benefits. This is our short guide to studying in Canada as a permanent resident.

Here’s the big difference between studying in Canada as a permanent resident and studying as an international student: as a permanent resident, you pay the same low tuition rates as Canadian citizens. In the eyes of the government and educational institutions, you are effectively already Canadian when it comes to education within Canada. The government is willing to pay most of your costs.

Though they also receive a quality education in Canada, international students aren’t so lucky when it comes to tuition fees (even though it will probably still work out cheaper than studying in another country).

Let’s compare these tuition fees in three of Canada’s most popular and renowned universities.

University of British Columbia: tuition fees for 2018-19 academic year

University of Toronto: tuition fees for 2018-19 academic year

McGill University, Montreal: tuition fees for 2018-19 academic year

So, if you want study science at the University of British Columbia as a Canadian permanent resident, for example, you will pay just over $5,000 per year in tuition fees, rather than the nearly $38,000 per year you would have had to pay before you became a permanent resident.

Want to study Psychology at the University of Toronto? That’s just under $7,000 per year as a permanent resident, rather than $45,000-50,000 per year as an international student.

Similar differences exist across a range of study programs and in practically every university and college across Canada.

Studying in Canada as a permanent resident: other perks

Great, studying in Canada is now about eight times more affordable than it was before you became a permanent resident. But five or six thousand dollars a year is still a significant chunk of change, and you’ll probably have to take time off work in order to participate in your study program seriously, so there are potential opportunity costs involved.

So why do it?

A recent study by Times Higher Education, which polled 6,000 firms globally on the question of which universities produced the “best graduates in terms of employability” in their own countries and abroad, found that Canadian universities are training undergraduates with the skills employers need, particularly in areas like business, computer science and engineering, which represented 80 per cent of the industry sectors polled.

Instead of thinking about price, let’s consider value and think about studying in Canada as a permanent resident as an investment in the surest bet there can be: you.

The table below, using data from the 2016 Canadian census, displays the results of median annual earnings of women and men aged 25 to 64 who worked full time and for a full year as paid employees, broken down by their level of education. (It’s fair to say that Canada, like much of the world, has a way to go before gender pay parity is a reality, but it’s getting there.)

High school diplomaApprenticeship certificateCollege diplomaBachelor's degree





So, for an investment of a few thousand dollars you can potentially earn that back each and every year.

Studying in Canada as a permanent resident is not only an economic decision, of course. You may even enjoy the experience and make new friends and contacts along the way!

Studying in Canada as a permanent resident: next steps

Here are some useful tools to help you compare different study programs in Canada:

We also have comprehensive pages on how to choose a study program in Canada and finding the right university or college for you.