WE’D all love to return to the days of free university in Australia, but don’t hold your breath.
With the impacts of Student Loans in the news recently, young people can feel confused and stuck. Do we skip Uni because it is unaffordable, or do we run up a huge student loan debt that will take years to pay back?
Fortunately, these are not your only choices.
There are several alternatives to incurring student debt, and it’s important to explore all options before taking out loans.
There are numerous scholarships available for students, offered by universities, private companies, community organisations, and the government.
Students can research and apply for scholarships based on their academic merit, financial need, and other criteria.
Some scholarships may be for smaller amounts however these are worth chasing as the competition can be lower, and it all adds up.
Work and study
Combining work with part-time study is a proven approach to making Uni affordable and accessible.
Working can help cover living expenses and reduce the need for loans.
Of course, this means extending your timeframe to graduation, however you’ll be gaining relevant work experience and removing or reducing the need for student loans.
Families can set up savings and investments to save for their children’s education expenses.
This can be as simple as a separate bank account, or you can investigate specific educational investment products (be careful about higher fees and look for quality investments).
Don’t feel you have to save the entire amount for a Uni degree.
Every unit of study that you can pay for from savings, is a unit that doesn’t need to be placed onto a student loan.
Do what you can now and limit the impact of future student debt.
Some employers offer to pay for their employees’ education expenses, either upfront or through reimbursement programs.
Students who are already working may be eligible for employer sponsorship.
Historically it has been larger companies that have offered these programs; however, a growing number of businesses are including a study benefit as part of their offer to attract and retain staff. Talk with your
Manager or HR department about this opportunity.
For relevant degrees, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) offers the opportunity to be paid to complete your course of study, have your Uni fees covered, and walk into a great role with the ADF after you graduate.
Naturally, there are terms and conditions to understand, and minimum service terms apply. For the right person, a career with the ADF can be a great option to explore.
Combine the options outlined above with a HECS-HELP loan as required.
Even though student loans have been getting a bad rap now, it remains an option.
Just remember it is a real debt that will need to be paid back. As always with financial matters, it pays to plan.