Student Debt Map

Which province leaves students deepest in debt?

This map shows average student debt level (government student loans) by province upon completion of an undergraduate degree and the average tuition costs to attend four years of undergraduate studies in the province. Hover your mouse over each province and find out which province leaves you deepest in debt. We used debt data from Statistics Canada’s National Graduates Survey (released March 2014). The survey data was compiled in 2013, based on responses from graduates of the class of 2010. To compare apples to apples, we used Statistics Canada’s average tuition levels from 2010 and multiplied them by four, to give a sense of what a degree would cost.

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Rank Province Average Student Debt
1 New Brunswick: The deepest debt $35,200.00
2 Nova Scotia: The second-deepest debt $30,400.00
3 British Columbia: The third-deepest debt $29,000.00
4 Newfoundland and Labrador: The fourth-deepest debt $27,300.00
5 Prince Edward Island: The fifth-deepest debt $27,000.00
6 Alberta: The sixth-deepest debt $26,300.00
7 Ontario: The seventh-deepest debt $22,400.00
Canadian average $22,300.00
8 Manitoba: The eighth-deepest debt $19,600.00
9 Saskatchewan: The ninth-deepest debt $19,600.00
10 Quebec: The tenth-deepest debt $11,900.00


Student debt loads in Atlantic Canada are the highest, yet if you cross the border from New Brunswick into Quebec, you encounter the lowest levels of student debt. Because education is controlled by provincial governments, the Canadian student debt map is anything but uniform.

Provincial politics play a big role in education funding. This means the range of tuition costs and available funding is about as diverse as the Canadian provinces that make up our country. Part of the reason Quebec’s debt levels are so low is that student protests have kept them that way.

The conclusion? If you’re trying to pick a university, you need to think beyond the reputation of campus life or a given program of study. These are all important considerations, but if you’re hoping to cut costs, you also need to think about geography. A failure to do so could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.