Going back to school? Financial tips for a career change

Have you ever wondered if you’ve chosen the right career path? Learn more about the financial considerations of returning to school.

If you are currently unhappy in your career, you may be thinking about making a life change. Many adults make numerous career changes throughout their working life; however, the thought of the financial repercussions may scare some individuals away from taking the leap. Considering the amount of time spent at work over a normal career span, you will see that it may be worth the price and sacrifice to make a change to a fulfilling career, instead of enduring your job until retirement. 

There are some technical aspects to think about before returning to school: family concerns, tuition fees, job opportunities in the new career path, etc., but don’t be discouraged. These difficulties can be overcome with motivation, preparation and support from your family and friends.

To help make the decision, you will need a financial plan to ensure financial security during your schooling. You will need to find out the total cost of your student fees, as well as calculate the cost of working hours you will sacrifice for your studies. After evaluating the total cost, here are some options to consider:

  • If the total cost seems to be a very big obstacle, you can think about opting for a part-time or online program; it will take more time but will allow you to continue to work.
  • If you go back to school full-time and you have an RRSP, you can participate in the Lifelong Learning Plan. It is the same type of program as the Home Buyer’s Plan. You have 10 years to make repayments, each year paying 1/10 of the total amount withdrawn until the full amount is repaid.
  • Grants and scholarships may be available to you through government, schools or independent organizations. Do your research to see if you are eligible for additional funding.
  • Many universities offer a variety of payment terms and loans associated with credit card companies or banks.
  • Banks also offer student loans with flexible limits, low interest rates, and time after graduating to start repaying principal. Just be sure to do your own independent research or speak to an advisor before taking out a loan.

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ways to overcome financial obstacles and move towards a fulfilling career. So, have faith in yourself and your potential, but make sure to do your research before making any decisions.

Keep the conversation going

Would you ever consider completely changing jobs or going back to school to achieve more in your career?  Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Karine Arsenault-Pelletier, CPA, CMA

Karine, financial controller at Cresswell Industries, is an area leader for CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy program and a volunteer for several organizations in Haiti.