While most Canadians claim they have a good understanding of the costs associated with post-secondary education, about half of them either underestimate or are unaware of the typical tuition rates.

In a recent survey conducted for CIBC, 80% of the respondents said they had a firm grasp of how much a post-secondary education would cost. However, when they were asked about annual tuition fees, 25% underestimated the amount, 6% said they couldn’t remember, and 27% admitted that they did not really know.

“Only 20% estimated the cost of tuition at between $6,000 to $9,999,” reads the report. “That compares to an average of $6,191 in tuition for an undergraduate degree in Canada – ranging from as low as $2,660 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $7,868 in Ontario, the highest, according to the most-recent data from Statistics Canada.” As for the remaining 22%, they overestimated the average tuition amount.

What sort of monthly income will their children require to pay for other expenses while at school? One in five (19%) of the respondents thought their children would be able to get by on less than $500 a month. The mean estimate for non-tuition costs from the poll was $1,333 a month.

“It’s stressful when you don’t know if you are on the right track or not. Have I saved too much, too little or just enough? Many parents think they know what to expect, but end up being surprised at the true cost. That makes it hard to budget and build a savings plan,” says Kathleen Woodard, senior vice president of Retail and Business Banking at CIBC. “With parents not really knowing what the costs are, it’s not surprising that so many students end up treating their parents like ATMs once they’re in school.”