Is Money a Worry for Students? Here are the Stats!

Money for Students

Are you an undergraduate or post graduate student?

Are you worried about your finances?

Universities Australia conducts a survey every 5 years to understand how domestic and international students relate to money whilst studying.

In their last survey, in 2017, they found that three in five domestic students said their finances are a source of worry. Do you agree?

Following is a snapshot of some of the key findings that are quite eye opening and some tips to help you through.

Study and Work

Median annual income for full-time domestic undergraduate students is $18,300, while their median spending is $14,200. International undergraduate students have a median income of $19,200 but a median annual spending of $20,000.

Overall, the income for all domestic undergraduate students in 2017 ($20,900) was similar to the CPI adjusted median in 2012 ($20,400) and slightly higher than in 2006 ($18,900).

52% of ‘financially independent’ students feel their work commitments adversely affect their performance at university.


Students and Savings

Most domestic undergraduate students (61 per cent) have some savings that they can draw on in case of serious financial difficulty. Of those who have savings, nearly half report that they have had to use them.

Low SES students (55 per cent) and regional students (57 per cent) are less likely to have savings that they can draw on. Fewer than half (42 per cent) of Indigenous students have savings.

More than half of regional domestic undergraduates with savings (52 per cent) report that they have had to draw on their savings.

Students Debt

Most of the debt for domestic students is made up of tuition fees deferred through the HELP scheme. Full-time domestic undergraduate students’ median estimate of their debt at graduation is $38,200. For full-time domestic postgraduates, the median estimate is $54,100.

What students say

“… I now often eat meals at university, rely on friends to bring food over or pay for the ingredients so I can cook for them. I don’t eat much anymore …”

(Indigenous full-time undergraduate student)

“… The stress of constantly worrying about how to pay next [month’s] rent or simply paying for food is really hard.”

(Domestic full-time undergraduate student)

“I work [as] much as I can to earn money so they [parents] do not have to pay for me but with full time study my mark definitely reflects this.”

(UG domestic full-time student)

If you’re a student… here are some tips

Start by doing a budget:

  • This will help you break down your regular income and expenses and see how much you can save. Salary from any part-time or casual jobs you have while studying. See this page for more information. The Australian Government offers a number of allowances to help students. Check the Department of Human Services website to see if you’re eligible to receive the Youth AllowanceAustudy or ABSTUDY.

Some of the costs you’ll need to consider include:

  • Bills – for your phone, food, gas and electricity.
  • Accommodation – these costs will change according to whether you live at home, in a share house or on campus. Our page on Moving out of home has more information about living expenses.
  • Transport – the further away from uni you live, the higher your transport costs will be.

Repaying your debt:

  • You have to start repaying your HELP debt through the tax system when you earn above a certain amount, even if you’re still studying. The repayment amount is between 4% and 8% of your income, depending on how much you earn. To find out more about the annual thresholds and repayments click here.


Have any tricks and tips to share with other students? Leave your comments below 🙂


To read the full report, click here.


Read more:


Inspiration: MoneySmart, Universities Australia.