Home' VCE Expo : April 2010 Contents NATAGE S007
THE AGE • MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2010
THERE are three main things you should
consider when thinking about the cost of
university or TAFE, according to Melbourne
University's Talk About Uni website: course
fees; course-related costs and living expenses.
Find out whether you can defer payment,
whether there are any initial set-up costs, such
as buying books, whether any scholarships
are offered and how to apply, and whether the
course commitment will leave you any time to
do part-time work.
You also need to ask how to apply for the
Austudy youth allowance. Youth allowance is
available to students living independently and
to those who live at home, if they and their
parents meet the means test.
The federal government is proposing
changes to youth allowance, which will mean
more students are eligible and more will
receive scholarships, thanks to a push by
Universities Australia, student unions and
However, the reforms have been passed
in the House of Representatives but have yet
to pass through the Senate. Meanwhile, the
current rules apply. To check your eligibility,
go to the Centrelink website, www.centrelink.
The reforms were proposed after a 2006
Universities Australia report, Australian
University Student Finances, showed that
students were among the poorest people in
The national survey of students in
Australia's 37 public universities, released
last August, said around one in eight go
without food, and more now rely on paid
work, help from parents and repayable loans,
while the average amount they receive from
Commonwealth assistance is falling.
Despite these hardships, students are
prepared to make sacrifices because they
know that higher education is an investment
in their future -- and their future earnings -- as
well as being enjoyable.
In the meantime, there are a raft
of government schemes and welfare
organisations to help students survive.
To pay for their studies, most
undergraduate students can apply for a
Commonwealth supported place. This means
the cost of your fees is shared by you and the
Although there is a discount for paying
your contribution upfront, most students
choose to defer these payments by taking
out a HECS-HELP loan (Higher Education
Contribution Scheme-Higher Education Loan
Program). The tax office is then notified of the
debt, which is recorded against your tax file
number and indexed each year.
When your repayment income rises above
$43,150, repayment begins at 4 per cent of
your repayment income. This rises
as your income rises.
Your earnings after you
qualify will be one factor that
will determine how much
you pay for your course. The
more potential income, the
more costly the course.
Working this out is
complicated as each
provider of education
sets its own level
for students in
supported places, within
limits set by the Higher Education
Support Act 2003.
These are set within bands, depending on
the cost of the course, the level of skill and
education required and the potential income.
The best source to help you work out how
much you will pay for each unit of your study
is the government website www.goingtouni.
Despite the expense and the hardships,
many people count their years at university
or TAFE as the best in their life. Katie, a
quoted on the Talk About Uni website, says
it's the best decision she ever made. "Before I
came to uni, I never dreamed I could do the
work I'm doing now. Uni has given me the
confidence and skills to do so."
Unless you are living at
home and supported
by your parents, then
there's a good chance
the first lesson you will
learn at university or
TAFE is life's expensive,
Jane Cafarella reports.
■ Going to Uni
Provides all the information you need about HECS-HELP and applying for
a Commonwealth supported tertiary place.
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