Financial hardship can significantly undermine post-secondary students' ability to attain their academic goals: completing their training and obtaining degrees with good grades. This study considers which method of financing studies—loans and bursaries from the government, student aid granted directly by universities, scholarships or on-campus jobs, off-campus jobs or parental financial contribution—will best help students attain academic success. For these purposes, we use a non-parametric data envelopment method, the Data Envelopment Analysis, which will enable us to determine a theoretically efficient production frontier against which the efficiency of students will be measured. Depending on the financing methods used, the conclusions of this study show efficiency differences. If a government is willing to pay attention to persistence in education, choices of study financing should therefore be carried out. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.