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Manage your money on a student budget

Page reading time: 4 minutes

There's plenty to think about when studying — like living on a student budget and paying off student loans. Here's how to make the most of your money and get financial help if needed, so you can get on with your course.

How to get by on a student budget

On top of your study costs, plan how to meet your living expenses when you start tertiary study. You may not be able to work as much, or you may need to move closer to where you study.

The costs to consider include:

Start a budget

Doing a budget will help you manage your money. Break down your income and expenses to work out what you can afford to spend each month.

Get a no-fee transaction account

A transaction account is an account you use for day-to-day banking like paying bills and getting money from work. The best option is a no-fee account.

See transaction accounts and debit cards for tips on how to find the best bank account.

Apply for government benefits

As a student, you may be eligible to receive Centrelink payments. These payments can help to cover your living expenses while you study or look for work.

Find out if you're eligible and how to apply:


Eligibility basics

Youth Allowance

  • 24 or younger and a student or apprentice
  • 21 or younger and looking for work


  • 25 or older and a student or apprentice


  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student or apprentice

If you’ve recently moved to Australia, see help for refugees, humanitarian entrants and new arrivals on the Services Australia website.

Get a savings mindset

Start saving some money — no matter how small the amount you can put aside. This will help you cope with big bills and avoid money problems in future.

To start:

Set reminders for important payments

Try setting yourself calendar reminders for things like:

If you're finding it hard to pay a big bill, ask if you can get an extension or pay in instalments. See problems paying your bills and fines.

Protect yourself from scams

If someone you don't know asks for your personal details or offers you a special deal, it could be a scam. For example, someone could offer you a discount on your course fees if you pay through them.

See banking and credit scams for what to look for to spot a scam, and how to protect yourself. Check the Scamwatch website for the latest information about scams.

HECS and HELP for study costs

You may be eligible for a government loan to help cover the costs of studying:

Find out if you're eligible for a HELP loan and how to apply:

Loan type



  • students enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place (CSP)
  • use it for: course fees


  • fee-paying undergraduate and postgraduate students
  • use it for: course fees


  • use it for: student services and amenities fees


  • Commonwealth supported place students who want to study overseas
  • use it for: travel costs, accommodation or study expenses

Student Start-up Loan

  • students who receive Youth Allowance, Austudy, or ABSTUDY

Trade Support Loan

  • Australian apprentices
  • use it for: living costs (like rent and bills) or course-related costs (like tools)

VET Student Loan

  • helps cover tuition fees for vocational education and training (VET) courses
  • available for approved courses at the diploma level and above

Paying off your HELP debt

When you start earning above $51,550 per year, you have to start repaying your HELP debt through the tax system. This amount is called the 'compulsory repayment threshold'.

Depending on how much you earn, you may pay between 1% and 10% of your income.

See the StudyAssist website for more information about repaying your HELP debt

Study while you work

Studying or training is a great way to upskill or get ahead in your career. If your course is relevant to your job, you may be able to get help with the cost of study.

Tax deductions

You may be able to claim some of your study expenses as a tax deduction. See self-education expenses on the Australian Taxation Office website to find out more.

Paid study leave

Ask your employer if they offer paid study leave or can give you time to study during work hours. Some employers may even pay for your course fees or other study expenses.


If you're doing on-the-job training through an apprenticeship or traineeship scheme, your employer may agree to pay your wage while you get your qualification.

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 undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

Get help if you need it

If you're feeling overwhelmed by money or personal issues, you don't have to go it alone. There is help available: