Langara students struggle with rising cost of… everything

Even with financial aid, students fight to keep afloat


 By Meharwaan Manak

 Despite Langara offering bursaries and financial assistance, students find that it’s not enough to keep pace with the rising cost of living in Vancouver. In May, students will also be faced with an increase in tuition fees of up to two per cent.

Although this change conforms to historical college increases, the current minimum wage of $15.65 an hour that many students rely on to afford school has not kept up with the cost of living. With recent inflation jacking up the price of groceries, rent, and transportation, students are often relying on family and part or full-time jobs to pay for their education.

The estimated cost of living, excluding tuition and school fees, for international students between 2021-2022 is ​​$18,295 according to the Langara registration and records.

Student’s wages not enough

 “No matter where you are, everything is going up in price but … minimum wage is not,” said Langara arts diploma student Emily Kuan who graduated and has since moved to Halifax to complete her bachelor’s degree.

 Kuan said her part-time job does not even begin to cover the cost of her studies. She said she was able to secure $12,000 from Langara scholarships and bursaries, but after relocating to Nova Scotia, she owes $25,000 on her government student loans.

International student struggle

 International students are paying almost six times more for tuition than domestic. Domestic students pay $107.62 per credit and international students pay $637.91 per credit.

 Stephen Busaga, an engineering student at Langara, receives tuition assistance from his family who run a grocery store in Romania.

 “It is a significantly bigger challenge for my family to keep the business running at the same level,” Busaga said.

 Busaga, like many international students, lives in shared accommodation and would like to have his own place in Vancouver. However, he said with the economic state and future of the country “that is virtually impossible.”

 Students receiving financial aid from families abroad must also consider currency exchanges.

 Every Romanian leu his family sends him for school is only 0.3 Canadian dollars. 

 “You can imagine the tuition cost for international students,” he said.

 Full-time second year business and economics student and full-time worker Abdalla Ahmed received a $1,255 bursary from the college this year but still can’t balance his budget. He currently owes $1,900 in fees to the college.

“Working full-time is quite a time-consuming thing,” said Ahmed. “I have to make sure I make enough to cover the expenses as well as make sure [I] am on top of [my] studies, as well.”

 Due to previous limitations from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, international students were only allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours, which Busaga said was insufficient.

 The IRCC has now allowed a temporary policy up until December 2023 where students who are study permit holders and are studying full-time may be eligible to work off-campus more.

‘It’s too much’

“All the free time that I have, I work,” said  first year science student Luis Lopez.

Lopez says that he is currently working three jobs while going to school full time. He does delivery at DoorDash, works at a car retailer, and he is employed remotely with a computer developer in his home country of Columbia. 

“If I find a job that can give me the work permit I definitely will drop the school because it’s too much,” said Lopez. 

 Jordan Berger from Langara registrar and enrolment services said cost of living for students is a “main concern” and student appointments and questions about financial aid have increased.

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