Whether you're a student at high school, TAFE, university or a
private college, it helps to plan for the costs of travel, study
and tools. Student discounts, if you're lucky enough to get them,
will only get you so far.
Here we show you how to organise your money so you'll have
enough time and energy to get the most out of your course.
Living on a student
On top of your study costs, your living expenses may begin to
add up when you start tertiary study. Take control of your money by
doing a budget. This will help you break down your regular income
and expenses and see how much you can save.
Your income could include:
- Salary from any part-time or casual jobs you have while
studying. See our First job page for more information.
- Government allowances - The Australian Government offers a
number of allowances to help students. Check the Department of
Human Services website to see if you're eligible to receive the Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY.
Some of the costs you'll need to consider include:
- Bills - for your phone, food, gas and electricity.
- Accommodation - these costs will change according to whether
you live at home, in a share house or on campus. Our page on Moving out of
home has more information about living expenses.
- Transport - the further away from uni you live, the higher your
transport costs will be.
Break down your costs and plan for your future.
Track your spending
Keeping track of your spending will help you calculate your
day-to-day living expenses and see where your money is going. Our
easy-to-use mobile app is a handy tool for busy students.
See how much you are spending and how much you can save.
The Australian Government offers a range of student loans to
help cover some of the costs of studying. Each type of loan has
different eligibility requirements, so check the details to see if
Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)
HELP is a Government initiative introduced to support students
struggling with their finances. Under the program there are several
loans available that will cover a range of expenses, such as course
fees, textbooks or resources.
- FEE-HELP - an interest-free loan
scheme available to fee-paying undergraduate and postgraduate
students to help cover tuition costs.
- HECS-HELP - available to
Commonwealth supported students to pay your student contributions.
It cannot be used to cover the cost of extras like textbooks or
- SA-HELP - covers the cost of your
student services and amenities fees.
- OS-HELP - assists eligible
students who wish to study part of your course overseas. The loan
can be used for travel costs, accommodation or study expenses.
Other student loans
- Student Start-up Loan -
available to students who currently receive Youth Allowance,
Austudy, or ABSTUDY Living Allowance payments. If you're eligible,
you can receive a tax-free payment twice a year.
Support Loan - available for eligible Australian apprentices.
The loan can help cover living costs, such as rent and bills or
expenses associated with the apprenticeship, like the cost of
Paying off your uni debt
You have to start repaying your HELP debt through the tax system
when you earn above a certain amount, even if you're still
studying. The repayment amount is between 4% and 8% of your income,
depending on how much you earn. Find out more about the annual
thresholds and repayments at Study Assist: loan
You must tell your employer you have a HELP debt so they can
deduct it from your pay. You do this by completing a new tax file number declaration form.
You will also need to complete this form each time you start a new
If you're fortunate enough to get the chance to study whilst
working, it is important to understand your entitlements.
- Tax deductions - If your study or training is
relevant to your job, you may be able to claim some of your
expenses as a tax deduction. See the Australian Taxation Office's
webpage on self-education expenses
for more details.
- Paid study leave - Ask your employer if they
can offer paid study leave or give you time to study during work
hours. Some employers may even be able to pay for your course fees
or other study expenses.
- Apprenticeships - You may be doing on-the-job
training through an apprenticeship or traineeship scheme. If your
employer agrees, they will pay your wage while you get
- Australian Defence Force Academy - The Australian Defence
Force Academy (ADFA) offers tax-free pay and allowances to
eligible students who take on a career in the Australian Defence
Force. ADFA also pays for their undergraduate or postgraduate
If you have to reduce your work hours to manage your study, your
employer's superannuation contributions will
decrease. This is because your employer pays your super based on
your salary or wages.
The costs of studying can add up but, by
checking what allowances you're entitled to, and sticking to a
budget, you'll be able to focus on your course.
Last updated: 11 Dec 2018