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Feds raise minimum cost requirement for international students

Students must meet new financial threshold before approval to study in Canada

Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, international students will need a minimum of $20,635 to support themselves before being approved to study in Canada.

That equates to 75 per cent of the low-income cut-off (LICO) established by Statistics Canada, which represents the minimum income necessary to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than average portion of income on necessities.

The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced the change on Dec. 7 in response to challenges experienced by international students in recent months, including the inability to find adequate housing.

“International students provide significant cultural, social and economic benefits to their communities, but they have also faced challenges navigating life in Canada,” Marc Miller, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a news release.

“We are revising the cost-of-living threshold so that international students understand the true cost of living here. This measure is key to their success in Canada.

“We are also exploring options to ensure that students find adequate housing. These long-overdue changes will protect international students from financially vulnerable situations and exploitation.”

Earlier this fall, Canadore College students staged a protest on school grounds when several were left without a place to live while arriving in North Bay ready to start their studies.

Describing the situation as “critical,” many students had resorted to staying in pricey motels or living in their vehicles when they couldn’t find housing locally.

The situation was later deemed resolved when several members of the community stepped forward to offer rooms in their homes.

Canadore is also continuing with an ongoing project to create more student housing by upgrading on-campus townhouses, leasing a downtown apartment complex, and establishing a homestay program, which would see students living with area seniors.

The ministry noted that the cost-of-living requirement has not changed since the early 2000s when it was set at $10,000.

Moving forward, the ministry said the threshold would be adjusted each year to stay in line with the LICO as set by Statistics Canada.

Miller said the update is in line with changes announced to the International Student Program earlier this fall.

The full list of changes announced on Dec. 7 is available here.