Uni students are skipping lectures to make ends meet


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When I was at university, I survived on my student budget by eating a lot of bread and brown rice.

These days my daughter and her friends get by on two-minute noodles and pasta.

Making ends meet can be tough - particularly when you live away from home.

University students work an average of 12.5 to 14.5 hours a week or two full days, according to a report by Monash University.

A recent student survey found 40% of students felt their paid work was having a negative impact on their studies.

Around 23% said they regularly skipped lectures or tutorials to meet work commitments.

There are plenty of costs associated with university on top of course and tuition fees, which students can defer under the Higher Education Loan Program and pay off when they start working.

Immediate costs include textbooks - typically amounting to around $1000 a year - computer and internet costs, accommodation and day to day living, travel, groceries, entertainment etc.

For a student living at home annual costs can add up to around $10,000, according to Vince Callaghan, who wrote a paper How to Survive Uni and TAFE Without Living On Two Minute Noodles, for the Australian Scholarship Group. You can download it free from asg.com.au.

Callaghan estimates students living on campus in a hall of residence will pay from $17,540 to $27,540. If they live away from home in a shared house with two others for a full year, the cost is $24,197.

If they opt for a home stay, paying full board, including utility bills the cost is $24,668.

Callaghan says parents are often unaware of government student support allowances.

The parental means test was relaxed mid 2010, meaning that more students are likely to be eligible than before. Start-up scholarships can amount to $2128. There is rental assistance up to around $109 a fortnight, and a travel allowance.

Regional students who must relocate to study may be able to claim $4000 in the first year and $1000 in subsequent years. Youth Allowance pays out $194.35 a week.

Budget hits HECS

From 1 January 2012, the discount available to students who pay their HECS student contribution upfront will be reduced from 20% to 10% while the bonus on voluntary payments to the ATO of $500 or more will be reduced from 10% to 5%. No greater incentive to pay down as much of your HELP debt by the end of this year!

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.
Last chance for payment bonus: should I pay off my
November 2, 2016 8.36am

[…] With the 5% bonus on voluntary HECS-HELP payments of more than $500 to end at the end of the year, should students pay off their university debt? […]