Although there are certainly many benefits to being a student, financing your studies usually isn’t one of them. The upside is that there are a number of options available to help you meet the costs of student life. Below you’ll find a complete guide to using course loans, government assistance and scholarships to pay your way through your studies.
Step 1: Sort out your course loans
If browsing through course brochures has left you wondering how you’ll pay for your studies, rest assured that the federal government’s HELP loans can help lighten the load. If you meet eligibility requirements, you can defer your fees through one of the following loan schemes: HECS-HELP , FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP for tuition fees; SA-HELP for higher education services and amenities fees; and OS-HELP for student exchanges taken as part of your course. If you are eligible for one of these loan schemes, you can put off paying your fees until you are earning the minimum repayment threshold ($51,309 in 2013–14). Your fees are paid through the taxation system as a percentage of your salary, with repayments determined by how much you earn above this threshold. Note that you will need to apply for your HELP loan — your institution will provide you with the necessary form. If you are not eligible for a HELP loan, you may still be able to access fee concessions or assistance options directly through your institution.
Step 2: Investigate government assistance
Your next step is to cover the extra costs that come with being a student. Even if you have a part-time job, textbooks, stationery, rent and utility bills can all add up very quickly, so the first thing to do before you commence your studies is to check whether you are eligible for one of the federal government’s assistance schemes, which include:
- Youth Allowance (for full-time students or apprentices aged 16 to 24)
- Austudy (for students aged 25 years or over)
- ABSTUDY (for Indigenous students).
If you are living away from home, you may also be eligible for Rent Assistance, which provides an additional payment to help you pay for your accommodation. There are also a number of allowances that target apprentices and trainees, which can assist students with the costs of tools and equipment or general living costs. See Government allowances for more information, including eligibility criteria for each scheme.
Step 3: Seek out scholarships and bursaries
Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. Some may cover your full tuition fees, while others may contribute towards accommodation or the cost of a student exchange. Bursaries generally provide a smaller amount to cover costs such as textbooks and computer equipment. Scholarships may be offered by education institutions, the federal government (including the Relocation Scholarship ) and private organisations such as prominent companies and industry bodies. They are most commonly awarded to students who demonstrate academic merit or demonstrate that they belong to a recognised equity group (students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, for example), but may also be awarded for community involvement or achievement in fields such as sport or music. See Scholarships for more information.