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Financial support for study: what help can I get?

This article appears in:
All, Money

Beginning or returning to study can have huge rewards in terms of improving your quality of life and income potential once qualified, but like anything worthwhile, it takes time and money to get there.  It can be daunting wondering how you’re going to pay for study and the costs that come with taking time to study, such as child care or reduced working hours, but there is help out there for you.   

The Australian Government recognises how important your study and contribution to society will be in the long run, and how challenging it can be, so they offer assistance in a number of forms including help with fees, and income-support payments depending on your situation.  Other institutions also offer different kinds of scholarships.  

Help with Uni Fees  

The Australian Government supports a number of HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) schemes to help pay your fees for both Higher Education and VET courses.   Through these, your student contribution or full course fees can be deferred as a loan, to be repaid later through the tax system when you are earning over a specified income.  

  • HECS-HELP is a loan program available to eligible students for the student contributions toward Commonwealth Supported Places in undergraduate and some post graduate degrees at CDU.  
  • FEE-HELP is similar to HECS-HELP but is available to eligible post-graduate students enrolled in full fee courses. 
  • SA-HELP is available to eligible students to pay for all or part of your student services and amenities fee. 
  • VET Student Loans (replaced the VET FEE-HELP loan scheme from 1 January 2017) is similar to HECS-HELP but is available to eligible VET students enrolled in a Diploma, an Advanced Diploma, a (VET) Graduate Certificate or a (VET) Graduate Diploma. 
  • VET Pathway allows students to save money by taking a VET course which assigns credit points or even direct admission into their chosen higher education degree, working out cheaper than the course fees for their first year.  

The Australian Government’s Study Assist website is a fantastic resource to help you stay up to date with the latest information on all kinds of support available to students, and on any upcoming reforms or changes to the student support system. 

Help with Living Expenses 

When you commence or return to study, it’s not only the course fees that add up.  The extra time off work you need to take, the child care expenses, and other costs of making the transition to your new world all need to be covered.  Depending on what age and stage of life you’re in, the Government offers different income support payments through Centrelink to help ease the burden for families; and it’s worth checking up on all your entitlements, as your income, expenses and situation all changes when you add study into the equation.   The Department of Human Services’ interactive Payment Finder tool is a really handy place to start your search.  

If you have kids, definitely take a look at the Child Care Rebate (available for all working families) and the Child Care Benefit (income tested), and the Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance  scheme, all of which can help to cover the costs of child care while your family balances work and study.  Don’t forget to double-check your eligibility for other family benefits such as the Family Tax Benefits Part A and B, as your entitlements may change if you reduce work income to undertake study.  

There may also be income support payments available to you as a student, especially if you are studying full time.  Check out your eligibility for allowances such as Austudy, Abstudy, Youth Allowance and other special payments for students with the Student Income Support Eligibility Information Tool at the Australian Government’s Study Assist website.  

Scholarships and Awards 

Both the Government and Charles Darwin University offer a number of Scholarships each year to assist with the financial burden of study.  CDU scholarships are sponsored by individuals, businesses, government, community groups and the University itself, for help with both Higher Education and VET courses.  Remember, Scholarships aren’t just for the smartest students!  The main purpose of most scholarships is to assist students to overcome specific barriers to entering study, or to entice students into specific fields or industries. It may surprise you that a number of scholarships are not awarded each year simply because no-one applies for them, so it’s definitely worth taking a closer look.  

Starting the transition to study is a big move, but it’s an investment in your future, and in the future of our community, so don’t be afraid to get out there and ask for the help and support you’re entitled to; it might just open up a whole new world to you.  

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This article appears in:
All, Money

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