Can I afford university?

10 May 2021

Dreaming about attending university but worried about the cost? There are government loans, Equity Scholarships and other kinds of financial assistance to help you with the costs of study.

How much does it cost to study?

Commonwealth-supported places

When you have a Commonwealth-supported place (CSP) at a university or higher education provider the government pays part of your fees. This part is a subsidy, not a loan, and you don’t have to pay it back. You can pay the remaining fee up-front or defer your payment through HECS-HELP (the Commonwealth Government's loan scheme).

Changes to student contributions

A young woman sits at a table with two male friends and smiles to camera

The Australian Government has re-designed the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding clusters and student contribution bands for students in CSPs under the Job-ready Graduates Package.

The amount of money the Government provides universities (the Commonwealth contribution) for different courses changed on 1 January 2021, and the amount students pay to study (usually deferred through a HECS-HELP loan – the student contribution) has also changed.

Course costs depend on the course you are taking and the uni or college you choose to attend. Here’s a snapshot of the annual fees of popular courses:

  • Arts – up to $14,500 pa
  • Commerce – up to $14,500 pa
  • Communications – up to $14,500 pa
  • Education – up to $3,950 pa
  • Engineering – up to $7,950 pa
  • Law – up to $14,500 pa
  • Nursing – up to $3,950 pa.

Student contributions for all courses

Are there any additional costs to university study?

Most university or college courses will require that you have access to assigned textbooks, a laptop, printing and an internet connection. You may also need to consider the cost of accommodation if you plan to live away from home and travel to and from university.

Student Services and Amenities Fee

Most institutions charge a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) which is indexed annually and may be spent on amenities and services such as sporting and recreational activities, employment and career advice, child care, financial advice and food services.

What support can I get?

Government loans

Loan schemes such as HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP allow students to delay payment of their tuition fees. Loan repayment for HECS-HELP debts is managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You will start repaying your loan once your income reaches a certain threshold (currently $46,620).

Pro tip

Apply for a:

    Government income support

    If you are completing full-time study in 2022, you may be eligible for income support from the Commonwealth Government through Centrelink. There are a number of schemes that may help you as a student, such as Youth Allowance, Austudy, ABSTUDY, Education Entry Payment and Fares Allowance.

    Learn more about income support


    UAC's participating institutions offer a range of merit scholarships based on criteria such as academic and personal achievements. You apply directly to the university for these.

    Institutions also offer scholarships to financially disadvantaged students to help with the costs associated with higher education. There are a limited number of these Equity Scholarships and they are awarded to the students most in need.

    Apply for an Equity Scholarship though UAC

    Why should I invest in higher education?

    University or college is a great investment in your future. Studies have revealed that Australian university or college graduates have lower rates of unemployment and lower rates of underemployment across their working lives. There are many ways to subsidise the costs, so that you don’t feel financially disadvantaged.