Studying & Training

Paying for your course

Education doesn't come cheap, unfortunately. If you're planning to do some tertiary study, there are going to be some costs, including:

  • Course fees (or "tuition fees"), which you will have to pay for any university, TAFE or other training course you enrol in.
  • The cost of textbooks or other course materials (course fees usually don't cover these costs)
  • A general service or amenities fee, which is used to fund student services and activities (note that not all courses require this fee)

The good news is that there are ways to make paying for your studies a bit easier.

If you’re studying at uni or TAFE you might be able to borrow money from the Federal government - this is the HECS (or HELP) loan you might have heard about. The Federal government can also help you pay for amenities fees and doing part of your study overseas.

There are also some ways you can get paid to do your studies, including apprenticeships, scholarships and studying with the Defence Forces.

Finally, there are also government allowances that can help students cover the cost of studying and general life expenses.

On this page you'll find information about:

> Paying for University
> Paying for TAFE and Training
> Paying for Other Study Costs
> Paying Back HELP debts
> Getting paid to study
> Scholarships
> Getting financial help
> Links to further information

Paying for University

The Federal Government's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) (new window) can help you pay for your uni course. There are a couple of HELP loans available, depending on whether your place at uni is subsidised by the Federal Government (these are known as "Commonwealth-supported places") or you're paying full fees to do your course.

  • If you're a Commonwealth-supported university student, you can apply for a HECS-HELP loan
  • If you're a full-fee-paying university student, you can apply for a FEE-HELP loan

HECS-HELP

If you've received a Commonwealth-supported place in your course, you're eligible to apply for a HECS-HELP loan. As a Commonwealth-supported student, the Federal Government pays part of your course fees. Taking out a HECS-HELP loan means you're borrowing money to pay for your share of the course fees.

To apply for a HECS-HELP loan you just need to fill out an application form, which you have to get from your university. You'll also need your Tax File Number (TFN). If you don't have a TFN, check out our Tax page for advice on how to get one. For more about applying for a HECS-HELP loan, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

HECS-HELP loans can be paid back in a number of ways - check out "Paying Back Your HELP Loan" below.

FEE-HELP for University Students

If you're paying full fees for your uni course, you may be eligible to apply for a FEE-HELP loan. With a FEE-HELP loan you can borrow as much or as little as you want to, as long as it doesn't exceed the set maximum amount, which is set every year on 1 January.

Whether or not you can apply for a FEE-HELP loan depends on your course provider. To find a list of all universities whose students are eligible for FEE-HELP, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

To apply for a FEE-HELP loan you just need to fill out an application form, which you have to get from your university. You'll also need your Tax File Number (TFN). If you don't have a TFN, check out our Tax page for advice on how to get one. For more about applying for a FEE-HELP loan, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

Your FEE-HELP loan can be paid back in a few different ways - check out "Paying Back Your HELP Loan" below.

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Paying for TAFE and Training Courses

The Federal Government's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) (new window) can also help you pay for your TAFE or training course. There are a couple of different loans you can apply for:

  • If you're studying for a higher education qualification and you're paying full fees for your course, you may be eligible to apply for a FEE-HELP loan
  • If you're studying for a Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate and you're paying full fees for your course, you may be eligible to apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan
  • If you're studying at a TAFE or other training provider in a Victorian-Government-subsidised place you may also be eligible to apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan

FEE-HELP for TAFE & Training

If you're studying for a higher education degree at a TAFE or training institute (i.e., you're studying for a Bachelor Degree or higher) and you're paying full fees for your course, you may be eligible to apply for a FEE-HELP loan.

With a FEE-HELP loan you can borrow as much or as little as you want to, as long as it doesn't exceed the set maximum amount, which is set every year on 1 January.

Whether or not you can apply for a FEE-HELP loan depends on your course provider. To find a list of all TAFEs and training providers whose students are eligible for FEE-HELP, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

To apply for a FEE-HELP loan you just need to fill out an application form, which you'll have to get from your training provider. You'll also need your Tax File Number (TFN). If you don't have a TFN, check out our Tax page for advice on how to get one. For more about applying for a FEE-HELP loan, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

Your FEE-HELP loan can be paid back in a few different ways - check out "Paying Back Your HELP Loan" below.

VET FEE-HELP

There are two ways you can be eligible to apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan:

  • If you're studying a Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate as a full-fee-paying student at an eligible TAFE or training college
  • If you're studying in a Victorian-Government-subsidised place at a TAFE or training college (check out the Victorian Skills Gateway (new window) for more information on the Victorian Training Guarantee and other educational subsidies)

With a VET FEE-HELP loan you can borrow as much or as little as you want to, as long as it doesn't exceed the set maximum amount, which is set every year on 1 January.

If you're not studying in a subsidised place, whether or not you can apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan depends on your course provider. To find a list of all TAFEs and training providers whose students are eligible for VET FEE-HELP, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

To apply for a VET FEE-HELP loan you just need to fill out a loan application form, which you'll have to get from your training provider. You'll also need your Tax File Number (TFN). If you don't have a TFN, check out our Tax page for advice on how to get one. For more about applying for a VET FEE-HELP loan, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

Your VET FEE-HELP loan can be paid back in a few different ways - check out "Paying Back Your HELP Loan" below.

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Paying for Other Study Costs

There are a couple of other HELP loans available to help you pay for the cost of study:

  • The SA-HELP loan (new window) can help you to pay all or part of your student amenities fees
  • The OS-HELP loan (new window) is available to Commonwealth-supported university students who want to do some of their study overseas

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Paying back Your HELP Loan

When the time comes to pay back these loans, there are two ways to pay: compulsory repayment or voluntary repayment.

Compulsory Repayment

HELP loan repayments are managed by the Australian Taxation Office. They keep track of your annual income through your tax returns, and when you begin earning over a certain amount - known as the "compulsory repayment threshold" - you automatically start paying back your loan.

Until you do start earning above that amount, though, you won't have to make any compulsory repayments. Check out the Paying Back My Loan page (new window) on the Study Assist website to find out more about compulsory repayments.

Voluntary Repayments

You can also make voluntary payments towards your HELP debt at any time, for any amount. These payments are made on top of your compulsory repayments - they don't replace them.

Remember that if you do choose to make a voluntary repayment, unless you're paying off your whole debt, you'll continue to make compulsory repayments as well.

Check out the Paying Back My Loan page (new window) on the Study Assist website to find out more about voluntary  repayments and how you can make them.

HECS-HELP Benefit - Reduce Your Debt

Graduates of some kinds of higher education courses are offered a reduction in their HECS-HELP debt if they take on jobs in specific industries nominated by the Federal Government. To find out which industries currently offer a HECS-HELP benefit, check out the Study Assist HECS-HELP Benefit page (new window)

Interest and Indexation

You're not charged interest on your HELP loan, but your debt is indexed every year to reflect cost of living changes between the current date and the date that you took out the loan. To find out more about indexation, check out the Study Assist website (new window).

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Getting Paid to Study

It almost sounds too good to be true, but there are some ways you can get paid to study.

Do an Apprenticeship or Traineeship

Apprentices and trainees earn a wage from their employer while doing on–the-job training. They also complete qualifications at TAFE and other training providers.

For more info on apprenticeships or traineeships and where they can take you, check out our Apprenticeships & traineeships section.

Join the Australian Defence Force

If you sign up with the Army, Navy or Air Force you can complete a university degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy and receive tax-free pay and allowances.

You can also complete an apprenticeship or traineeship with the Australian Defence Force (ADF). If you’re already at university you can be paid while you finish your studies. To find out more visit the ADF website (new window).

Keep in mind that, if you do choose to study with the ADF, you are committing yourself to potentially serve as military personnel in the event of a disaster or conflict.

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Scholarships

Most universities and TAFEs offer scholarships, awards or bursaries to help you pay for your study. Businesses also offer education grants, sometimes with work placements as part of the grant.

Some scholarships are offered to students on the basis of their financial need, while others are offered as rewards to students who have received good marks in their studies.

Check out the website of your uni or TAFE to see what's available. You can also find out about scholarships on VTAC’s Scholarships pages (new window) and our Scholarships & philanthropic programs page.

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Getting Financial Help

If you’re struggling to pay the bills, your student union might be able to help. Pay them a visit or give them a call and have a chat with them about what kind of financial assistance you might be able to apply for. Their contact details should be on your institution's website, or in your student diary or other materials you were given when you enrolled.

Our Youth allowance & other allowances page has info on the types of financial support the Commonwealth government provides to students.

You could also try applying for an emergency loan to cover essentials like rent, household bills or medical expenses. For more about borrowing money and other financial help that's available, check out our Financial Assistance section.

For more tips and advice about paying the bills and staying out of debt, check out our Managing money section.

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Links

StudyAssist - HELP
Comprehensive information about loans available to help tertiary students pay for their courses.

VTAC - Scholarships
Information about a range of scholarships and how to apply for them.

Victorian Skills Gateway - Financial Assistance
Find out about the kind of financial assistance available for TAFE & training students in Victoria.

Victorian Skills Gateway - VIctorian Training Guarantee
Information about eligilbilty for state-subsidised places in Victorian TAFE and training instutions.

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