Last month, The Government of Ontario announced that elementary and secondary schools will reopen this fall with increased health and safety measures in place. Remote learning will be offered as in-person attendance will be optional for all students. 

Ontario’s post-secondary institutions will also be reopening with in-class, virtual, and hybrid learning options available.

However, in the wake of COVID-19, financial planning for the upcoming school year will be different. Regardless of the type of learning, returning to school during a pandemic requires even more in-depth financial planning than usual.

Our team put together the best financial advice for parents and post-secondary students trying to navigate the approaching 2020-21 school year.

For Parents

As school boards release plans and guidelines for the new school year, parents must make the decision to send their children back to school in-person or virtually. If parents choose the remote learning option, a new budget may need to be created. Here are some additional budgeting costs parents may need to consider:

New Learning Technology

Technology such as a computer desktop, laptop, and/or iPad will be required for remote learning. If schools are unable to provide students with devices, parents may need to purchase it themselves. Computer technology can cost anywhere from $200-1500, so it is important to budget and ensure this purchase is feasible. FamilyEducation shares what to consider when purchasing a laptop for kids with some affordable options here.

Note: Parents should check with school requirements first before making any purchases.

Increased Utility Bill

With children learning from home, utility bills may see an increase. One of the biggest bills to consider is your internet. Since your child may be using the internet even more to access their learning, parents should review their internet plans and consider increasing the limit or switching to unlimited if necessary.

CTV News shares additional tips on keeping your utility bills low during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as adjusting the thermostat settings, cooking smaller meals, and checking the filter on your HVAC system here.

Virtual Babysitting

A new phenomenon, virtual babysitting has become widely popular for Canadian parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. SOSitter is a virtual babysitting service that connects groups of six or seven children with a caretaker via Zoom. According to Alla Tanasyuk, a Montreal-based French language teacher, virtual babysitting is an affordable option for parents who choose the remote learning option for their children:

“Virtual-care rates are slightly more affordable than traditional in-person babysitting, which typically hovers at around $15 an hour, primarily because the time and travel are cut from the equation.”

Read more about the benefits of virtual babysitting via The Globe and Mail here.

Additional Tips

Budget for Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer

If parents choose to send their children back to school, it is absolutely essential to budget for face masks and hand sanitizer, in addition to the regular school supply list. 

Apply for Federal Government Support

Whether parents choose to send their children back to school in person or virtually, options are available to provide families with some financial relief during COVID-19. Read more details here.

For Post-Secondary Students

Options will vary depending on the institution and its programs, but Ontario’s post-secondary institutions will be reopening with in-class, virtual, and hybrid learning options available. However, as some schools may place more emphasis on the virtual learning component, students may need to create a new budget. 

Here are some budgeting costs for post-secondary students to consider:


Many post-secondary institutions cover the cost of a bus pass with tuition, which most students rely on as their primary method of transportation. However, for students living outside of their school’s city (and who won’t be returning due to COVID-19), bus passes are no longer an option. These students need to consider a new budget for transportation such as an amount for gas money, a new bus pass for their current city, or even purchasing a new vehicle.

Internet Plan

Post-secondary institutions also cover the cost of campus wifi. But students learning remotely won’t have access to their school’s free wifi. So, students may need to budget for a new internet plan to increase their limit. Rogers, Bell, and other internet providers offer exclusive deals for university and college students.

Gym Membership

Most post-secondary institutions also cover the cost of an on-campus gym membership with tuition. Many students prefer to use this option as it is cheaper than public facilities. However, with COVID-19 and virtual learning limiting the option for use of on-campus facilities, students may need to budget for a new gym membership in their local town.

Additional Tips

Consider Getting a Part-Time Job

To help cover the potential new expenses listed above, students should consider getting a part time job. With Ontario entering stage 3 of reopening the province, more working options have become available. Getting a part time job will also help cover the cost of additional student expenses, including rent (especially if you are unable to get out of your lease), groceries, textbooks, and other supplies needed.

Cut Unnecessary Expenses

As mentioned in a previous blog post, one of the best ways to save money is to cut back on unnecessary expenses. Students should review their recent debit and credit card statements to see where they can cut back – such as eating out, online shopping, etc. This will help save money and pay for the necessary educational expenses.

Apply for Federal Government Support

Students can also apply for The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) before September 30, 2020. Read more details here.

Next Steps

We understand planning for the upcoming school year during a pandemic is financially challenging, but The RaeLipskie Partnership is here to help!

If you need any assistance with back to school financial planning, contact us today!