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:
- course fees
- computer and internet
- tools or equipment
- moving house
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.
Know how much you're spending so you can start saving.
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:
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.
- Open a savings account to start putting a little bit aside.
- Save for an emergency fund to build a safety net for unexpected expenses.
Set reminders for important payments
Try setting yourself calendar reminders for things like:
- when course fees are due
- when to pay rent and utility bills
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:
- The Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) helps students pay for expenses like course fees.
- The government also offers loans for students and apprentices receiving government benefits.
Find out if you're eligible for a HELP loan and how to apply:
Paying off your HELP debt
When you start earning above $46,620 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 HELP repayment thresholds and rates on the Study Assist website.
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.
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:
- Contact your course provider's student support services if you need financial assistance or help in a crisis.
- See get debt under control for simple steps to get out of debt and stay out.
- Visit the National Debt Helpline website or call 1800 007 007 for free and confidential advice. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm.
- There are services to help you with food, housing and bills in a crisis, as well as emotional support. See urgent help with money.