Paying for your course
Education doesn't come cheap, unfortunately. If you're planning to do some tertiary study, you’ll have to pay tuition fees for any university or TAFE course you enrol in. You'll also have to pay for courses you do with other education or training providers.
Tuition fees do not usually cover the cost of textbooks or other course materials so you’ll have to find money for these too. Your uni or TAFE might also charge a general service or amenities fee (expect this to be somewhere between $50 and $400) which will be used to fund student services and activities.
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 can register for a Commonwealth government loan. This means you don’t have to pay your tuition fees until later in life when you’re earning enough money to make repayments.
There are also ways that you can get paid to do your studies, including doing an apprenticeship or getting a scholarship, and there are also government allowances that you might be eligible for as a student.
On this page you'll find information about:
The Commonwealth Government runs the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP), which helps students to pay for their university courses.
A HECS-HELP place at uni means you share the cost of your tuition fees with the Commonwealth government. You take out a loan from the government to pay your share. If you’re starting a course in 2008 your contribution will be somewhere between $4077 and $8499 per year.
FEE-HELP places are not supported by the Commonwealth government and loans are only available for some students. Each university sets its own fee for these places and they’ll cost at least as much as a HECS-HELP place, probably more.
There is a maximum amount you can borrow through this system. For more about these loans, check out the Going to uni website (new window)
When the time comes to pay back these loans, you have two options: deferred payment or upfront payment.
If you defer your HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP payment, the Australian Tax Office is notified and your debt becomes tied to your tax file number. The interest you pay on your loan is directly linked to the Consumer Price Index.
Compulsory repayments start when your annual income reaches a certain amount (in the 2007-08 financial year you’ll have to earn $39,825). To find out more, visit the Australian Tax Office website (new window).
You can also make a voluntary payment on your HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP debt and receive a 10% discount on lump sum payments over $500.
If you choose to pay back your loan upfront either all at once or in installments, you won't have to pay interest. If you do choose to pay in full upfront, or make partial upfront payments of more than $500, you’ll also get a 20% discount.
For more about upfont payments, check out the Going to uni website (new window).
In 2007 Type 1 TAFE courses cost between $53 and $860 per year. These places are supported by the Commonwealth government. Some students (e.g. Health Care Card holders) don’t have to pay more than the minimum of $53 per year.
Type 2 TAFE courses aren't supported by the Commonwealth government and you have to pay your tuition fees directly to the TAFE. There are no loan schemes for payment of these courses.
There is no government fee support or loan scheme for independent TAFEs or private education or training providers.
To find out what kind of TAFE course you're doing, contact your TAFE institute or training provider.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but you can get paid to study. There are two ways to do this.
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, that you are committing yourself to potentially serve as military personnel in the event of a disaster or conflict.
Take up 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.
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 prize.
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 or visit our Scholarships & philanthropic programs page for more info.
There are also Commonwealth Scholarships offered by the federal government to help pay for education and accommodation. You can apply for these through VTAC’s Special Entry Access Scheme (new window).
If you’re struggling to pay the bills your TAFE, uni or student union might be able to help.
You can apply for an emergency loan to cover essentials like rent, household bills or medical expenses. You could also try your bank, building society or credit union.
Our Youth allowance & other allowances page has info on the types of financial support the Commonwealth government provides to students.
For more tips and advice check out our Managing money section.