With ever-increasing tuition fees, textbook costs and rent expenses, some students are starting to question whether a degree is an affordable option.

According to the Canadian Federation of Students, the average student in Canada graduates university with a debt load of $37,000.

Tyler Valiquette is already above that mark.

The University of Guelph student is $42,000 in debt and plans to graduate this spring.

To stop that number from climbing even higher, he’s taken a part-time job – even though it means less time to study.

“Either my schooling has to suffer or my bank account has to suffer,” he explains.

But Valiquette may be one of the lucky ones.

Dominica McPherson of Guelph’s Central Student Association says some students ultimately have no choice but to give in to financial pressures and leave the school entirely.

“We have students that can’t complete their degrees and are dropping out,” she says.

Others follow the path of Roisin Lyder, who worked every summer and most semesters to keep earning money for tuition and other expenses.

Lyder was able to complete her degree, but it took her six years to finish a four-year program.

“I changed my major, I dropped a course here and there, and so at that point I really started increasing the amount of hours that I was working in order to try to make ends meet,” she says.

Ontario’s tuition fees are the highest in the country, having risen at three times the rate of inflation over the past 20 years.

The province has responded by capping annual tuition increases at three per cent.

Speaking to reporters after introducing the measure in March, Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid said the goal was to strike a balance between making tuition affordable for students and affordable for schools.

“We want to make sure that while we’re reducing the future burden for students ... we also have to balance that off with ensuring we continue to have a globally competitive post-secondary education system,” he said.

It’s a measure that may help future students, but graduating students like Lyder will be paying off their tuition bills for years to come.

“Hopefully I can pay off my debt in less than 10 years,” she says.

CTV’s Rosie Del Campo is examining student debt in a four-part series airing this week on CTV News.