Paige Jennings is a dependent student completing her undergraduate at Cape Breton University. Paige lives at home with her parents, who earn a median income ($47,700 in 2004; $61,500 in 2014-15).

Our model assumes that Paige:

  • Completes her undergraduate degree in four years
  • Lives at home throughout her studies
  • Earns a sufficient income through summer work to cover her summer living costs and meet student assistance program expected contributions
  • Does not work part-time during the school year
  • Does not receive any other form of financial assistance
Debt at Graduation

Total Unmet Need



Total Costs$7,033$11,113$10,908
Ancillary fees$307$255$240
Living allowance$2,992$3,604$3,604
Total Resources$10,025$11,113$10,908
Federal Grants$0$800$800
Federal Loans$5,610$5,855$5,650
Provincial Grants$0$0$344
Provincial Loans$1,189$0$0
Summer employment contributions$2,145$3,064$3,064
Parental contributions$1,081$1,394$1,050
Debt ReliefNone.Repayment Assistance Plan linked to income and repayment time (max 15 years).Repayment Assistance Plan linked to income and repayment time (max 15 years).

Take Aways:

  • Living at home greatly reduces students’ costs as considered by the student financial assistance program, because room and board are only partially considered – represented by the living allowance allowed by the student assistance program. However, while a family may pay room and board at a very low rate given that they may be staying in their home with an additional bedroom regardless and food costs may be reduced through economies of scale, these costs will not necessarily be reduced by the amount by which rent and food for students living away from their parents exceed the living allowance. Comparison with the Lesra Martin case study is noteworthy. Meanwhile, even though the family is helping to finance a room and food, they are still expected to make the same financial contributions towards other costs as if they were not.
  • Expected contributions through summer work play a significant role in Paige’s financial picture. If Paige cannot find sufficient summer work, her circumstances could be significantly more challenging. However, Paige’s earnings expectations may be the most reasonable of any of the case students’, if we maintain the student assistance program principle of not considering the costs of a room and food that are covered by her family.
  • Paige’s tuition fell since 2004, while CBU has not increased ancillary fees to offset this, unlike many other universities.
  • Paige’s debt total has fallen since 2004 as a result of the Federal government’s Middle Income Grants and increased expected summer earnings.

Key Recommendations:

  • When assessing student assistance applications, the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program’s calculation of expected resources should give consideration to additional student and/or family costs, including, but not limited to, registered retirement savings and registered education savings for dependent children or registered disability savings for any family members – Report: From Worst to First.
  • 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.