how to finance your studies

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Once you've chosen the course you'd like to do, you need to make sure that you're able to cover the expenses of the course fees and your living costs while you study, as these can all add up to be a pretty big challenge to face.

There are several ways you can do this including:

  • Pay all fees upfront before the course starts

  • Get a government loan

  • Apply for a study scholarship

  • Do an apprenticeship or cadetship

  • Work and study at the same time

  • Get student income support

Paying upfront for your course is obviously the cheapest way in the long term, as you don't have to pay back a debt and it's all over and done with. But let's face it, unless you've won the lottery or have relatives who'll give you the money, this isn't going to be an option.

Getting a government loan is how most people fund their studies, and the good thing is that you don't have to pay the loan back until you start earning a reasonable wage. There are different loan schemes available to suit different circumstances, so check out the information on the Study Assist website to find out which one is best for you.

Study scholarships are usually worth up to a few thousand dollars each, so can help fund part of your study costs. Most scholarships are not very well known, but there are quite a few available through the commonwealth and state governments, individual universities, community organisations, and charitable foundations and trusts, You need to research each of these potential avenues thoroughly to find out what's out there, and to decide if you fit the eligibility criteria to apply.

More information on available scholarships can be found at:

Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Cadetships are jobs combined with training towards a formal qualification. Usually you have your training paid for by your employer, and you study and work at the same time. This is an ideal way to get a qualification because you are studying and practising what you have learned on the job, and you are earning a wage as well. A lot of companies offer this type of employment, so you need to check their websites individually to seek out the opportunities available.

Work and Study at the Same Time

Working full time or part time while you're studying has many advantages. You earn money that can pay some or all of your living and entertainment costs and tuition fees. And not having to rely on others financially can give you a sense of independence. Even if you're not doing an apprenticeship or cadetship, you can still hold down a job and study towards a qualification at the same time. Training is very flexible these days, and you can find part time, evening or on line courses that will fit around your work schedule. However, it isn't as easy as it sounds, and studying at the same time as working is probably one of the hardest things you'll ever do in life. Here are some tips to help you.

Tips for studying and working

  1. Have good time management. Set up a daily or weekly plan for yourself and ensure that you set aside time for your studies daily. Vary the study times to fit in with other commitments such as family, sports etc. Be aware, and accept, that your weekends are likely to be eaten into by at least some regular study. Depending on your commitments and need for sleep, early Saturday or Sunday mornings can be a good time to study. They allow you free time later on both days for family, religious observation, sport, friends, other activities etc.

  2. Get yourself motivated by staying in contact with your classmates. Use the e-mail or other social media to share ideas and brainstorm responses to assignments. When studying and working, it can be easy to lose motivation without constant student contact, so make the most of technology to meet online. Try to catch up before or after classes occasionally to put faces to the names.

  3. Set goals and reward yourself when you attain them - this is a great self-motivating habit. One great goal is time off from studying!

  4. Set up a quiet place for study away from home life distractions, such as the television, phone calls or other family members. Always keep your textbooks, notes, computer etc., in this one place for easy access and retrieval when needed. It saves worrying where things are after a long day when you're feeling tired!

  5. Make room for play time. Play refreshes us and gives us greater purpose in life. Get out there and enjoy yourself; continue a hobby, go bushwalking, see a film, spend an afternoon with your friends and family. While you're playing your mind is resting, but is subconsciously computing the study you've learned. Always put down recreation time in your timetable.

  6. Enjoy the crossover between work and study. Full-time students may appear lucky to you but they are missing out on the key thing that is pushing you - work experience. Already working provides added value to your study, by providing real-life insights and examples that can help you better understand your studies. Even if your work and studies are completely unrelated, work is still providing you with the skills of prioritising, managing, balancing tasks, time-management, dealing with colleagues and customers etc.

  7. Ask your family and friends to be understanding. You have taken on a lot for the duration of the studies and they may not see much of you at times, such as when you have classes and assignment work. Ask for their support during your busy times.

  8. Always eat healthily, exercise and sleep well. Maintaining a job and studying at the same time requires a good deal of mental and physical energy. Being tired or exhausted day after day is the last thing you want and may kill motivation. Keep a healthy body and it will help you in the long run too.

  9. Don't let your work slip. If you are finding the study is taking so much effort that it is affecting your work, you need to make changes such as fewer courses or negotiating time off work. Some workplaces can offer study leave.

Income support

There are a number of programs where you can get financial assistance to help you while you are studying. Some of these are:

Financial help for people aged 16 to 24 years who are studying full time, undertaking a full time Australian Apprenticeship, training, looking for work or sick.

Eligibility basics

  • 16 to 21 years of age and looking for full time work or undertaking approved activities

  • 18 to 24 years of age and studying full time

  • 16 or 17 years of age and have completed year 12 or equivalent, or undertaking full time secondary study and need to live away from home in order to study, or are considered independent for Youth Allowance, or

  • 16 to 24 years of age and undertaking a full time Australian Apprenticeship

Financial help to full-time students and Australian Apprentices aged 25 years or more.

Eligibility basics

  • aged 25 years or more, and

  • studying full-time in an approved course at an approved educational institution, or

  • undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship or traineeship

Helps with costs for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians who are studying or undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship.

Eligibility basics

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian

  • enrolled in an approved course or undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship

  • not receiving any other financial help to study or do an apprenticeship or traineeship

A voluntary loan for eligible higher education students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

An annual payment to help eligible ABSTUDY or Youth Allowance students with their higher education if they have relocated to or from a regional or remote area to study.

JETCCFA is a payment to help you with the cost of approved child care if you are on an eligible income support payment to help you get the skills you need towards getting a job. It can help meet the cost of care by paying most of the "gap fee" - that is, the difference between the full fee you are charged and the Child Care Benefit you receive - while you participate in work, study or training activities.

For more detailed information on these programs, and the full range of financial supports available while you're studying, visit StudyAssist.

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