Anne Shirley is a dependent student from a high-income Prince Edward Island family (income greater than $250,000 per year). She is completing her undergrad at Acadia University and living in residence.

Our model assumes that Anne is entering directly from high school, will complete her degree in four years and that her parents are meeting student assistance program expectations in terms of financial support.

Debt at Graduation

Total Unmet Need



Total Costs$18,287$23,441$23,223
Ancillary Fees$356$1,074$1,074
Housing and food$8,885$12,983$12,983
Total Resources$18,287$23,441$23,223
Parental contributions$18,287$23,441$23,223

Take Aways:

  • Anne benefits the least from recent policy changes and StudentsNS recommendations of any case study in our model. However, she also has the most advantageous circumstances, graduating with no debt and no unmet need.
  • Anne’s tuition fell since 2004, but student fees increased as a result of ancillary fee growth.
  • Anne’s residence costs have increased dramatically, suggesting that this is an area deserving of special attention.

Key Recommendations:

  • The Province should regulate tuition fees to be nominally frozen (0% growth) unless post-graduate labour market conditions are sufficiently strong – Report: Fairness in Nova Scotia University Funding.
  • The Province should strengthen and strictly enforce ancillary and auxiliary student fee rules so that all new fees or increases beyond the rate of inflation (with respect to standard ancillary fees or their program-specific equivalents) must be approved through a clearly defined formal student approval process that is agreed upon by the institution and its student associations, and Residence or meal plan fees should be limited to market prices for similar goods and services – Report: Fairness in Nova Scotia University Funding.

Model Weaknesses:

  • It is a reality that some high-income parents and spouses are unable to help finance their children’s education as a result of particular financial circumstances (illness or dependence of relatives, housing challenges, etc.), or are simply unwilling. Mechanisms need to be in place to support students in these circumstances, such as the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program’s Lower and Higher Appeal Boards that can provide additional support on a case-by-case basis.