Financing University 101: The International Student

Posted by Megan on August 31, 2015


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Welcome to the third blog in the Financing University 101 series. There is an important distinction that still needs to be covered, one that affects nearly 6,000 students at York. International students share many of the challenges that domestic students face, such as adjusting to first year, maintaining a strong GPA and accumulating experience to help build their professional resumés. Yet international students might also encounter a variety of unique circumstances such as adapting to Canadian culture, learning a new language or, more specific to what we have been talking about in this series, sorting out the financial side of university from a specific perspective.


One major difference in terms of money stands out: tuition. While domestic students pay about $6,907 for a full course load at York, international students pay significantly more. Thankfully a number of resources can help international students find their bearings, ensuring that finances can become another simple check mark on their to-do list.

Why York?

Before I jump into the technical side of financing university, let’s start right at the point you first decided to pursue a university education. My friend Kim Khanh Tran, a second-year Psychology student from Vietnam, was integral to the creation of this article, and she was kind enough to answer some questions I had about life as an international student.

The one that I was most curious about — Why study internationally at York given the added expense? (Please note that international tuition is significantly higher than domestic tuition at all universities.)

Kim gave a similar reason to my own for choosing York: “I’ve always been passionate about the social sciences and humanities, specifically Psychology and Gender and Sexuality Studies. I chose Canada for the exposure to various world cultures and diverse human experiences, and I chose York U for having the largest Psychology Faculty in North America, as well as a progressive tradition of social justice. I had the opportunity to visit Keele Campus during my Grade 12, and I was instantly impressed with its inclusiveness and the politically engaged student body.”

A header from the York International website reads
York International welcomes you! Image Source.

The first stop for incoming international students (and travelling domestic students as well, in fact) is York International, which provides a wide array of information and resources to these Lions free of charge, making the transition to life at York and in Canada that much easier. It’s also a good place to go with questions about money matters. Make sure to bookmark their calendar to stay up to date with various events and workshops!


Now for the more technical side of things. You’ve decided on York as an international student, but you may worry about how best to cover the cost of tuition. Hopefully you will have learned a lot from the first two posts in this series, “The Basics” and “Creating a Budget.” Below I have listed the two most common ways that students help take care of the costs of their tuition. Beyond that, international students will likely need additional financial assistance from home. To help make that process easier, a special payment option exists for international students in the form of a bank-to-bank transfer. Students looking for more information on this process can visit the walkthrough on York University’s website.


Funding can assist international students with their expenses. York University currently offers a variety of scholarships and bursaries to international students, including the following entrance scholarships:

International Circle of Scholars Scholarship, valued at $15,000;

Global Leader of Tomorrow Award, valued at $68,000 over a four-year degree (that is, $17,000 per school year);

United World College Scholarship for students coming from a United World-affiliated college, valued at $112,000 over a four-year degree (i.e. $28,000 per year);

International Entrance Scholarship for the student with the highest academic average, valued at $112,000 over a four-year degree (i.e. $28,000 per year).

Current international students can also use York’s Awards Search to locate other financial awards available to current international students.

Additionally, the Government of Canada hosts a scholarship website that includes a section for international students studying in Canada.

Finally, don’t forget to check on financial resources in your home country or through other  international scholarship websites like International Student, Scholars 4 Dev and  International Scholarships. Many funding options exist! Just make sure to check eligibility requirements carefully.


I talked with Kim about financial barriers she faced or worried about. She replied with some good news: “During my first year I was worried and confused about acquiring the legal documents needed to work off campus, but incoming students shouldn’t share the same fear, since they are now eligible to work off campus without a work permit [as of] June 1, 2014.”

Deciding to learn more, I found this handy page on the full requirements for off-campus work on the Government of Canada website. The basic information includes the following key points of qualification:

You must

  1. have a valid study permit;
  2. be a full-time student;
  3. enrol at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level;
  4. study in a program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration;
  5. obtain a Social Insurance Number from Service Canada.

Once qualified, students will be able to work up to 20 hours a week during the regular academic school year, and can work full-time during scheduled breaks such as the winter and summer holidays.

For more information on working in Canada, check out York International’s Opportunities and Requirements page.

Other common options available to international students are on-campus work-study positions. One option, Research at York (RAY), has a limited number of positions available each year for international students (called iRAY positions). You can read more about the RAY program on York’s website and in this YFile article. Also be sure to visit the Career Centre website; it allows you to filter job postings (both on- and off-campus) for positions that are open to international students.

One important final note: You must file income taxes if you have either earned income from employment in Canada or if you received any scholarships, bursaries or fellowships. Learn more on the Taxes in Canada page on the York International website.

I hope the above has provided you with a brief overview of the opportunities available to you as an international student at York. Do you have any experiences or resources to share? Any questions? Please comment below or tweet me at @yorkustudents.

You can also connect directly with York International by email at or by telephone at (+1) 416-736-5177.


Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan