how to finance your studies

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Congratulations on deciding what course you'd like to do, it's not always an easy decision. The next decision you'll need make is how you're going to cover course expenses and your living costs while you study.


There is some financial assistance available including government loans, scholarships, Commonwealth supported subsidies and income supports. Let’s explore some of them!


Ways to finance your studies

Paying upfront for your course is the most efficient way in the long term, as you don't have to pay back a debt and it's all over and done with. Some courses require upfront payment, while others offer this as an option. But let's face it, unless you've got a big chunk of savings you can use or have relatives who'll give you the money, this isn't always going to be an option. 

Getting a government loan is how most people finance their studies, and the good thing is that you don't have to pay the loan back until you start earning a certain amount. 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. The most important part about applying for a government loan is to read the fine print. Be sure to find out exactly how much you will incur in debt, what the repayment threshold is, and how long it may take you to pay it off.

A Commonwealth supported place is a place at a university or higher education institution where the government covers a portion of your fees as a subsidy, which you are not required to repay. This subsidy does not cover the entire cost of your study. There are eligibility requirements, and some education providers or specific courses may not be covered. Check out the Study Assist website for more information. Some education providers (such as TAFE) offer fee-free courses at times, check out your local TAFE website to see if they have any similar offers.

If you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, from 2024, you will be guaranteed a Commonwealth supported place at a university of your choice when accepted into your chosen course of study. 

Basically, scholarships are financial help given to students while studying. Sometimes a scholarship is a one-off payment, sometimes it can be an ongoing payment given to students each semester or year. They can cover expenses such as tuition fees and living costs. Commonwealth and state governments, individual universities, community organisations, and charitable foundations have their own scholarships, so you could check out their individual websites for available scholarships and the eligibility criteria for each one. The Good Universities Guide website has a scholarship search tool which can help you get started.

It is also recommended to plan ahead, research and apply for scholarships well before your course is due to start, as applications often close before study commences. You might like to ask someone you trust to support you with this process (like a teacher or a family member) as eligibility and applications for scholarships can be a bit confusing.

More information on available scholarships can be found at:


For international students planning to study in Australia, there are numerous financial supports available such as scholarships, grants, and bursaries to support your education. Check out the Department of Education website for more information.

Apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships are jobs combined with training towards a formal qualification. Usually, your training is paid for by your employer, and you study and work at the same time. They are generally entry level roles which do not require any experience and it is expected that you will receive on-the-job training as well as complete theory work through a training organisation. Many young people start apprenticeships and traineeships while in school (when possible), to get a head start in something they are passionate about. Apprenticeships are suitable for students who want to gain practical experience in trades like engineering, bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, automotive, hairdressing, beauty therapy and cooking.

Traineeships are designed for those looking to launch or advance their careers in industries such as healthcare, support work, infrastructure, retail, tourism, hospitality, business, and IT. Cadetships are usually available to those studying at a university level from a wide range of degrees, including business, commerce, economics, mathematics, computer science & technology.

More information on apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships can be found at:

Working full-time, part-time or even casually 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. Study is very flexible these days, and you can find part-time, evening or online courses that fit around your work schedule. Reflect on your focus, priorities and capacity – if your priority is work, then look for study options that fit around work. If your priority is study, look for work options that fit around your study commitments, just remember not to stretch yourself too thin and try to leave some time for yourself as well.

Many employers have a dedicated budget for professional development courses which could be a great opportunity to up-skill in your current industry without having to worry about course fees. You could also ask your employer if they offer paid study leave (which generally includes a number of paid day’s off per year which can be used to complete exams or complex assignments), or if they are willing and able to be flexible around your study commitments. 

If you’re an international student, be sure to check how many hours you can work while you are studying as there may be some restrictions. Check out work restrictions for student visa holders for more information.

Managing other expenses


If you have to move out of home to study, there are some things to consider and options to support you. Services Australia offer financial supports for Australian residents who are full-time students, such as Rent Assistance and Relocation Scholarships. These benefits can help ease the financial challenges of moving. Many education institutions offer accommodation services to assist you too! They can give you information about different accommodation options close to campus and their costs, provide access to databases with student housing listings, and help you get ready for the move. Some universities even have on-campus accommodation available. Check out this fact sheet for other options and supports.



Living costs

Managing general living costs like food, entertainment and social events can be tricky when you’re a student. Here are some tips to minimise these expenses: 

  • Make use of your student card and utilise student discounts! Lots of businesses offer student discounts such as cafes, restaurants, theatres, gyms, and much more. Not all places will advertise these kinds of discounts, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask!

  • Limit eating out and consider cooking at home. You could even invite some friends over and have a BBQ! It is often cheaper to get some basic ingredients and cook something rather than going to a café or getting takeaway. Doing some meal planning and prepping for the week is often cheaper, healthier, and saves time by doing one big shop rather than lots of little shops throughout the week. 

  • Take advantage of free events. Most towns and cities will have a local events website where you can check out upcoming events – many of which are free. These events might be things like an art exhibition, a local festival, or an opening night for a new business. There is usually something fun to do which won’t cost you an entry fee, you just have to look for it.

  • If you have a job, check to see if your workplace has any partnerships with other businesses, as sometimes you will have access to staff discounts which could be for things like fuel, groceries, gym memberships, insurances and much more. Some universities also have partnerships with local businesses so it's worth asking student services about this too. 




No matter where you live, you'll most likely need some kind of transport to get between places like home, class, work or the shops. Here are some ideas to help you save money on transport:

  • Although it is a bigger chunk of money in one hit, buying weekly, monthly or annual passes is often a lot cheaper for public transport. And don’t forget to ask about a student discount!

  • Consider getting a second-hand bike if you don’t live too far away from campus or work.

  • Chat to your classmates or workmates and see if there are any opportunities to car-pool. You could even take turns and share the fuel expenses amongst yourselves.

  • Check with your education institution, as some universities for example offer free bus travel to certain area’s.

  • Plan your trip in advance. There is nothing worse than getting lost and having to spend extra money taking another set of buses/trains or taking a taxi because you are running late. It could also help to plan trips to the grocery store or other errands around days where you need to use a car or other transport.


Affordable mental health supports 

Accessing support for your mental health if you need it is really important – even if you are on a limited budget. Here are some low-cost options to consider:

  • Student services – Most education providers have a student services department, which often includes student counselling. There is generally little to no cost involved in these services, and they are 100% private and confidential.

  • headspace centres - Find a headspace centre near you. We have centres located throughout Australia, staffed with people who are trained and ready to help. If there isn't a headspace centre near you, you can get online and telephone support through eheadspace.

  • Head to Health - Head to Health is a free, confidential service from the Australian Government. Depending on where you are located and what sort of support you need, they offer in-person and over-the-phone supports.

  • WellMob - WellMob brings together online resources made by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Here you will find websites, apps, podcasts, videos, helplines, social media and online programs all with a focus on social and emotional wellbeing. 

Income support in Australia

If you’re an Australian citizen, there are a number of programs where you can get financial assistance to help you while you are studying. Services Australia has this handy payment finder tool which asks you a few questions and lets you know which types of income supports you might be eligible for depending on your answers. For more detailed information on these programs, and the full range of financial supports available while you're studying, visit StudyAssist or Services Australia.


Looking for a course that suits your situation and passions, financing that course and everything in between can be tricky, and it’s totally okay to reach out for support if you need it.

mind & money

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Get support

If you're aged 15 - 25 and want some advice on financing your studies, choosing a course and everything in between, get free and confidential support from headspace Work and Study and sign up for one-on-one support.  

For support with your mental health and wellbeing, find your nearest headspace centre or access online and telephone support via eheadspace.


The headspace Content Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website. 

Last reviewed November 2023.

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