This year CUSA wants to pay your tuition

At CUSA, we’re students too, so we know how expensive university can be. Not only is tuition in Ontario the most expensive in the country, but students also have to worry about rent, groceries, utilities, transit…the list goes on.

That’s why CUSA wants to help out one lucky student with their tuition. This year our #TuitionByCUSA contest will reward a student for supporting their student-run businesses by paying $2000 towards their tuition (or to a charity of your choice if you’re graduating). We’re looking for someone who loves their CUSA businesses and has a killer insta game.

Here’s how the contest works: Take a picture of you and your friends in a CUSA business. It could be getting cozy in an armchair in Rooster’s, browsing some book titles in Haven, picking up a quick bite in Henry’s, or dancing the night away at Oliver’s on Thirsty Thursday. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #TuitionByCUSA when you post your photo on Instagram to be entered into the contest.

Be creative! We’re looking for funny, weird, quirky and inventive.

And remember, the winning photo wins $2000!

Get snapping. We’ll be checking out your photos all year.

10 financial tips for students

We know how hard it can be to balance your finances as a student. You’ve got to pay rent, tuition, groceries, utilities…and you still want to have a little fun at some point. Right now is probably the most broke you’ll ever be, and we know it can be challenging. As part of our Financial Literacy Month, we’re sharing our best student finance tips with you. They won’t exactly make you rich, but if you follow some of our advice, you might be able to buy a few extra boxes of mac and cheese this month.

1. Take advantage of all the scholarships and bursaries you can.
In Canada, over $15 Million dollars’ worth of scholarships go unclaimed each year and over 50% of scholarships are not merit-based. Plus, scholarships are not just available in September; they’re offered all year long.

2. Try a budget app.
There’s tons of apps you can download to make budgeting easy. Apps like LearnVest, Level, and Mint automatically upload your bank account information and categorize your spending.You can set budgets for each category and the app will let you know when you’re close to going over.

3. Always ask about student discounts.
You’d be surprised at how many there are out there! Even if a store doesn’t have a discount posted, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Also, don’t forget to pick up a College Survival Coupons Card at the CUSA office. For just 20 bucks, it gets you awesome discounts at a bunch of local clubs, restaurants,and more.

4. Buy used textbooks—and sell your old ones.
New textbooks are absurdly expensive and you’re probably only going to use them for a semester, so don’t buy them new if you can avoid it. Buy used books from Haven Books or check out one of the Carleton used textbook groups on Facebook. The Carleton Bookstore also offers used and rentable options for most books, so take advantage of those.

5. Buy generic whenever you can.
Sometimes brand name items are better quality than their generic counterparts, but often the items are exactly the same, but in different packaging. Generic ibuprofen, for example, is exactly the same as Advil and it costs quite a bit less. Don’t be afraid to buy generic for everything from condiments to cheese to deli meat. It won’t make a difference and you’ll see the savings when you hit the checkout.

6. Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
Okay, this is a silly one, but we all know it’s true. When you’re hungry, everything at the grocery store looks delicious. Eat a quick snack before you go so that you don’t end up blowing your budget on eight dozen croissants and six pints of ice cream.

7. Take advantage of free activities in the city.
Save a few bucks by seeking out free fun! From yoga on Parliament Hill, to free Thursday night admission at the National Gallery, Ottawa has plenty of cool community events that cost you nothing.

8. Check out student bank account options.
Most banks offer chequing accounts for students that include lower fees, unlimited transactions or other special perks. You definitely want to ask your bank what they have available for students.

9. Look for a great student job.
We all know the struggle of trying to find a good part-time job that offers plenty of hours, but works around your school schedule. Finding an on campus job is a great option, and there’s plenty available if you know where to look. They’re all posted on CUHire, the Carleton job portal.

10. Use the Carleton Awards Office.
The Awards Office is a great resource for information on Work Study programs, OSAP, out-of-province scholarships and bursaries, and more. It exists to help students, so take advantage of all the services available.

For more information about managing your finances, make sure to check out all the great Financial Literacy Month events we’ve got going on during November. From scholarship information, to credit counselling, to a seminar on repaying your student loans, there’s something for everyone. Best of all, it’s all FREE. Find out more by checking out the Financial Literacy Month Facebook event.

6 frosh tips every first year needs to hear

Frosh: A time when bewildered students wander around the campus in colour co-ordinated t-shirts, led by over-enthusiastic upper-years. During this classic rite of passage, frightened freshmen are initiated into the Carleton community. Here are some tips to make sure you emerge from this week as fully-developed first years.
Carleton Fall Orientation
Tip 1: You will get dirty or wet, so dress appropriately. There will be tarps laid down on the hills and your frosh leaders will expect you to slide down them. Don’t be deceived; these slides will be covered in mud within ten minutes. And that soap they’re pouring down them will get in your eyes if you’re not careful. However, tarp-sliding is a great way to stand out from the crowd and catch the eye of that cute girl you haven’t had the guts to say hi to yet.

Tip 2: Step out of your comfort zone. If there is a hypnotist, volunteer to go up on stage. The idea of making a fool of yourself in front of hundreds of your peers may make your heart race, but when it’s done, it will make for a great story. Everyone will be asking you if you really tasted that ice cream the hypnotist told you to imagine, or if you remember singing that opera song. Bask in the glow of frosh glory.

Tip 3: Try something you’ve never done before. When your frosh leader pushes you up to that mechanical bull, resist the urge to flee. It will be fun. Your palms will be exceptionally sweaty and you may slip off after only a couple seconds, but laugh it off. You can now say you’ve ridden a mechanical bull.

Tip 4: Put yourself out there. Everyone knows that the real fun happens at night, when first years congregate in the centre of the residence commons. Try to ask people questions other than the typical “what program are you in,” or “where are you from.” Instead, ask what they like on their pizza, or why they chose to wear that particular bucket hat. These questions may seem odd, but this is the best way to make yourself memorable.

Tip 5: Speaking of remembering things: when putting people’s phone numbers into you phone, add a couple words to help yourself out. You will meet dozens of Jakes and Sarahs, but putting “Jake with the oddly long hair” or “Sarah with the neon green jacket” will save you from some awkward situations in the future when they text you and you can’t remember who they are.

Tip 6: Make friends during frosh. Go to events with your roommates, people on your floor, or that one random guy you met on the way to the caf. Don’t worry, nobody knows anyone else either. It is perfectly acceptable to go up to a group of people and join the conversation. Do it soon, though; a few weeks into school, doing this will earn you some very confused looks.

By following these tips, you will be able to maneuver your way through the wild experience that is frosh. Hold on to your horses (or mechanical bulls) … you’re in for a wild ride!

By Irene Galea

This year we’re answering your questions about your first year at Carleton on CUSA Hub and here on our blog. It’s all part of our #FirstYearQuestions project. Like us on Facebook and check out the campus feed on CUSA Hub to learn more.

Financial Literacy Week presents: Tax tips for students

Financial Literacy Week is here to help you!

CUSA is here to lend you a hand during tax season. April is known not only for the stress of final exam season, but tax season as well. Of course, you need to make sure you’re paying what the law requires, but you also want to take advantage of all the tax credits you can. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your tax return.

  1. When filling out your tax return, you have to include any tips from your job. Even if they are not included on your T4, it is still your responsibility to claim them as income.
  2. If you are a full-time student and have scholarship income, it is most likely non-taxable. If your form T2202A from Carleton shows you’re eligible for a full-time education credit, then your scholarship income will be tax-exempt. On the other hand, if the scholarship came from your employer, it’s likely to be considered employment income and will be taxed.
  3. If you’ve made any charitable donations this year and you are a first time donor, there is a new “super-credit” available that boosts the value of donation tax credits by 25% if the donation was made after March 20, 2015. Like tuition and education credits, unused amounts from the charitable donation credit can be carried forward to future years.
  4. A common sentiment expressed by students is that they don’t earn enough income, so there is no point in filing a tax return. Unfortunately, this is not actually the case.  There are several reasons why you should file a tax refund even if you don’t owe anything:
  • If you paid any tax, you’ll need to file to get a refund.
  • If you have credits that you can’t use this year but can carry-forward to future years when you will have tax to pay, file a return so that these amounts are put on record.
  • Your tax return will be used to assess your eligibility for the GST/HST credit. Also, if you have income, reporting it will increase your future RRSP deduction limits.

These are just a few of the tax facts that are relevant to many students. You will certainly have others if you’re an international student, a student with a disability, a married student or a co-op student.

For help with your taxes this year, come out to CUSA’s Financial Literacy Week from March 21-24.
Time: 12-4pm
Location: University Centre atrium
What to bring: SIN number, T4 slips (if you work), T2202 (Print from Carleton Central), Donation Receipts, Rent Receipts, Bus Pass (Print U-Pass receipt from Carleton Central)

Also, make sure to check out CUSA’s other Financial Literacy Week events:
Let’s Talk Credit Workshop, Wednesday, March 23 from 12pm-1:30pm in the Library Discovery Centre 482
ScotiaBank in the UC atrium, 10am-4pm Tuesday-Thursday to answer all your banking questions


ISC gears up for International Students’ Gala

ISCGala_TicketsFrontThe CUSA International Students’ Centre’s annual International Students’ Gala is coming up on March 19 and you don’t want to miss it. The gala is an excellent opportunity to get involved with Carleton’s international community and enjoy a great night out!

We host an incredible night of food, dancing and entertainment. With live performances and a dinner buffet, it’s always an exciting night and a wonderful representation of the diverse international cultures at Carleton.

The International Students’ Gala is open to all ages and students are encouraged to bring their friends and family. As always, the event is black tie, so dress to impress.

Early bird tickets are $35. Regular tickets are $45. Buy tickets online at and then come into the CUSA office to pick your seats. Tickets can also be purchased at the CUSA office. Last year the event sold out in two weeks, so make sure to get yours before they’re gone!

Cocktails: 6:00 pm
Dinner: 7:30 pm
Dance: 10:00 pm
Location: Centurion Conference and Event Centre

For more information, contact the International Students’ Centre.
613-520-2600 ext. 2753